Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Fred Wolf, who headed iconic Wolf Brothers, dies at 88

TAMPA — At its peak, his family's clothing store brought generations of well-groomed customers to more than half a dozen locations throughout the state, starting with a landmark location on Franklin Street.

Fred Wolf, whose grandfather and great-uncle founded Wolf Brothers in 1898, ran the men's clothing store through the 1950s until its closing in 1996. While styles changed, the dress and demeanor of the quiet businessman who led Wolf Brothers did not.

In some ways, the rise and fall of Wolf Brothers reflected broader changes over a century. Suburban malls packed with other chain clothing stores, and a reduced demand for tailored suits accounted for some of the losses.

But while it lasted, Wolf Brothers worked meticulously to hold on to its reputation as a standard setter. Now Fred Wolf, the last of a family of clothiers that once operated at four locations in Tampa, with stores in St. Petersburg and Clearwater and others around the state, has died.

Mr. Wolf, a native Floridian who was proud to have anchored an iconic store for decades, died July 18, of kidney failure. He was 88.

His family roots are steeped in history. In 1898, Mr. Wolf's great-uncle, Morris C. Wolf, quit his job at his in-laws' store, Maas Brothers, and founded a Franklin Street store with $200 in capital.

Legend has it he sold red and blue bandanas to Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, who were headed to Cuba for the Spanish-American War. Fred W. Wolf, Morris' brother, joined him in 1899.

A 1900 Tampa Tribune edition described Wolf Brothers as an "unrivaled gents' furnishing store in beauty … a remarkably handsome store." The location doubled in size.

Harold Wolf, Fred W. Wolf's son, took over the store 1931.

Fred Leserman Wolf, Harold's son, was born in 1925 in Tampa. He grew up spearfishing, and later became one of the first people in Florida to own a scuba tank, his family said. He served in the Army Air Forces, graduated from Georgia Tech and eventually joined Wolf Brothers in Tampa. He married Delores Sunday and started a family. Delores Wolf died in the late 1970s.

In 1964, Wolf Brothers was sold to Hart, Schaffner and Marx, the store's Chicago supplier. The chain retained the family name, however, and Mr. Wolf stayed on as president.

Into the late 1960s, the store, which had expanded to women's clothes since the early days, sold furs and ball gowns for Gasparilla parties.

"There was no such thing as women bank managers," said Eleanor Wolf, who married Mr. Wolf after his first wife's death. "The women they sold to were society women."

He retained his love of the outdoors, opening Windsurfing Florida Suncoast stores in the 1970s with two partners. A series of small dogs, especially a Yorkie named Rowdy, loved to ride on the surfboard as Mr. Wolf cut through the bay on his windsurfer, his family said.

Wolf Brothers locations continued to prosper in downtown Tampa, University Square Mall, WestShore Plaza and the former Tampa Bay Mall. But overall, malls did more to hurt the business than help. Among other things, they drew business away from downtown.

"At 6 o'clock, you could almost shoot a cannon up the street and nobody's there," Mr. Wolf told the Times in 1987.

Mr. Wolf retired in 1992. The Wolf Brothers in WestShore Plaza, the chain's last location, closed in 1996.

Mr. Wolf also volunteered at Sarasota's Selby Botanical Gardens, bringing back baby bromeliads by the carload. He planted hundreds along the entrance to the residential community where he and his wife lived. They are still there, surrounding an oak tree, their golden yellow spears standing 5 feet and higher.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

After Monday's frustrating loss, the Rays take on the red-hot Astros again tonight in what should be a top-notch pitching matchup between LHP Blake Snell and RHP Justin Verlander."Two really talented pitchers at different points of their careers," Ra...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

TAMPA — Publix shoppers in South Tampa who hate circling the lot for parking can now toss their keys to a valet.The Publix at Dale Mabry and Neptune started testing a free valet service last week that could expand to more stores. Spokesman Brian West...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando County Animal Services searching for pet owners after Brooksville seizure

Hernando County Animal Services searching for pet owners after Brooksville seizure

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Animal Services is looking for the owners of dogs and cats that were seized from a Brooksville home last week.Animal Services, along with the Sheriff’s Office, removed 60 dogs and 23 cats from Carol Allard, 71, after...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

A sign asking customers at a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Baltimore to report employees who were heard not speaking English has set off a controversy.The sign, according tothe Baltimore Sun, would offer coupons to customers who reported workers at a dough...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

SAFETY HARBOR — When Fire Chief Joe Accetta started working at the Safety Harbor Fire Department, Fire Station 53 was a double wide in the middle of a field now home to Mease Countryside Hospital.Now almost four decades of challenges and promotions l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver’s seat of a luxury electric sports car. The 20-year-old rising star, who pronounced his stage name "Ex Ex Ex...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Brooksville man convicted of murder awaits possible death sentence

Brooksville man convicted of murder awaits possible death sentence

BROOKVILLE — Although he was convicted last week on first-degree murder charges, George Mason III will wait nearly two months to find out whether he will face death for the crimes.The fate of the 47-year-old Brooksville man — found guilty by a jury o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Updated: 3 hours ago