Living is foundational for the Wolf family
Legacy, Spring 2018
Like so many good things in life, The Wolf Family Charitable Foundation started with a love story.
While Paul Wolf was in the Navy during the Korean War and stationed on Whidbey Island, a friend living near Seattle invited him on a double date. Paul’s date was Elizabeth, who had recently graduated from nursing school at University of Portland and was working at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Many decades later, Elizabeth admits that it took awhile for Paul to gain her affection, but Paul says he knew right away that she was the girl for him. She was Catholic and very pretty!
The two young people furthered their relationship through a steady stream of letters while Paul finished his last 18 months of military service. Paul knew he had to do a “selling job” and his efforts paid off. Paul and Elizabeth married soon after he finished his tour with the Navy and settled in Seattle.
As their family grew, Paul got his business degree from Seattle University and found a job as a salesman. He enjoyed success in this position, but it didn’t satisfy his ambitions. When a friend asked him to start a trucking company in Portland, he jumped at the chance.
“That was 1959,” recalls Paul. “We started with one Volkswagen van, and we both drove it. Some days we’d have only two shipments, and you could carry both on one arm.” Over the years, Airport Drayage grew to become one of the largest airfreight cartage companies in the Portland area.
Two of their six children, daughter Teri and son Brian, and Teri’s husband, Dennis, opted to work for the family business while their siblings chose different paths. Paul retired in 1994 leaving the company under the management of Teri, Brian, and Dennis, who have continued Paul’s legacy by growing the business that now employs about 60 in Portland and Salem. Since retirement, Paul and Elizabeth have enjoyed traveling the world and spending time with their 8 grandchildren.
Feeling very blessed, Paul and Elizabeth were inspired to find a way to share their good fortune and help others. After a bit of research, Paul and Elizabeth formed The Wolf Family Charitable Foundation with an infusion of stock and cash. “One reason we started the foundation,” Paul says, “was so our children would learn to be givers and to help others. And it’s had a big payoff. We can’t do everything, but we can help.” All of their children and the older grandchildren have embraced the notion of giving back and have participated in the financial growth of the foundation.
Their granddaughter, Madelyn, agrees. “I can see working in our family foundation in the future. I’ve been raised with a philosophy of giving, and I want to instill that in my children. I want to promote an attitude of kindness and gratitude for others.”
Teri, director of the Foundation, explains that they focus their giving in three main areas: pro-life organizations, the poor and afflicted throughout the world, and orthodox Catholic organizations. Among the latter, the family contributes generously to the formation of priests at Mount Angel Seminary.
“We may be doing things in a small way,” reflects Paul. “But we are grateful for the opportunity and encourage other families to do the same.”