Robert Thomas "Tom" Wolfe passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at the age of 87.
He was born on July 6, 1933, and was raised in Chattanooga. Tom attended Sunnyside School, where years later as an educator, he would serve as principal! After studying at Brainerd Junior High and Chattanooga High School, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chattanooga and a master’s degree from George Peabody Teacher’s College in Nashville.
Tom served in the U.S. Army in Iceland and Nebraska.
Back in Chattanooga, he taught at Hemlock School and Barger School, as well as one year teaching at the American School in Augsburg, Germany. Tom served as the first music resource teacher for the Chattanooga public schools and then became the principal of Sunnyside School. Shortly after that school’s eventual closure, he embarked on a career at St. Nicholas School in the Early Learning Center.
He taught hundreds of students to read for the first time and the reading continued well beyond the one hour class period. Students would willingly come to school early or return to his class after school to further hone their skills. Countless graduates credit “Mr. Wolfe” with introducing them to the joy of reading, positioning them well ahead of their peers as they pursued higher learning. Outside of the classroom, he often played the organ in chapel and was always a smiling, comforting presence at the school.
The Dedication page in a St. Nicholas yearbook reads:
“My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” Ecclesiastes 2:10
To Mr. Wolfe, our teacher, accompanist and friend, who entered Level 2 with us and now “graduates” with us. We join in a chorus with all the old friends you introduced to us – Curious George, Danny the Dinosaur, Clifford, Babar and Dr. Seuss to sing your farewell aria and thank you for all you have given us at Saint Nicholas. You taught us to read, laugh, and be happy in learning.
Working with the youngest members, Tom was an instructor with the Chattanooga Boys Choir. A lifelong musician, Tom often sang with the Chattanooga Bach Choir, the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra chorus, and the Scenic City Chorale. He was a patron of several musical organizations and was an active member of the Ascension Lutheran Church.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Ruby Crabb Wolfe, and his brother, Jim Wolfe. His survivors include his beloved dog, Curly, his closest friend, Bonnie Bryant, several cousins, many friends, and a host of admiring students and colleagues.
In the interest of public health and Tom’s wishes, no public ceremony or visitation will be held at this time. A private graveside service will precede his burial. Additionally, a memorial concert will be announced by the Chattanooga Bach Choir at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Ascension Lutheran Church, 720 South Germantown Road, Chattanooga, Tn. 37412, or to the Chattanooga Bach Choir, P.O. Box 80576, Chattanooga, Tn. 37414.
Please visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share your thoughts and memories.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN, 37421.