Hannes Richter

A Man for All Seasons (1925-2005)

Hannes Richter

Even at a time when multi-tasking has become a necessary ingredient of modern day, contemplating Milton A. Wolf’s achievements make us wonder how he did it. Along his life's journey of eighty years, he had been meteorologist, educator, businessman, diplomat, fundraiser and philanthropist. Behind such a multifaceted personality there had to be an exceptional mind and a relentless drive to improve his own life and that of others.

Born the son of a policeman in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, Milton A. Wolf served in the Air Force in World War II. He graduated from Ohio State in 1948 with a B.A. degree in chemistry and biology. The same year, Mr. Wolf founded the Zehmann-Wolf Construction Company in Cleveland, building housing and shopping centers. In 1954, Mr. Wolf received a B.A. degree in civil engineering, summa cum laude, from Case Institute of Technology. He returned to Case, which by then had become Case Western Reserve, for an M.A. in economics in 1973 and a Ph.D. twenty years later. From 1981-1987, Milton Wolf taught international economics at this university.

From 1977-1980, Mr. Wolf served as President Jimmy Carter's Ambassador to Austria, where he played a key role in arranging details of the meeting between Carter and Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev for the signing of the Salt II  Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

In Austria’s dedication to humanitarian efforts, taking in over 200,00 freedom fighters from the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, and again in 1968 Czech refugees from the "Prague Spring," Mr. Wolf saw the hallmark of Austria’s domestic and foreign policy. "As I grew older and had a more ecumenical view, it was apparent that the Austrian people were supporting similar facilities for individuals of any race, religion or culture." This understanding ignited Mr. Wolf’s determination to reward Austria with his loyalty, strengthening Austro-American relations.

In 1984, the American Austrian Foundation, Inc. (AAF) was founded, and Mr. Wolf served as its Chairman until his death. This organization conducts joint exchange programs between Austrians, Eastern Europeans and American scholars in the fields of medicine, communications and the arts. Through the AAF, Milton Wolf helped, for example, establish the Salzburg Seminar Medical programs in which faculties from Cornell University’s medical college and hospitals, together with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Duke University, have offered seminars and instruction to over 6,000 doctors from Central and Eastern Europe as well as Russia.

Ambassador Wolf also established a program for young Austrian journalists in partnership with Duke University, and the Vienna Diplomatic Academy hosts an annual Media and Diplomacy program in his name. Ambassador Wolf received the Austrian Great Gold Medal of Honor with Sash, and the Cross of Honor for Science/Arts First Class. He is survived by a son, three daughters, and five grandchildren.