One of the true legends of the area’s night life, Tom Wolf, passed on this past week.
A party in celebration of his life will be 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, September 6 at Keegan Ales in Kingston.
Wolf (or Wolfie), as he’s been known since his days on Onteora’s basketball court, was front and center at most of Woodstock’s iconic entertainment landmarks and gathering places starting in the early 70’s and including the Corner Cupboard, Joyous Lake, the Pinecrest Lodge, the Cafe Espresso, the Tinker St. Cafe, the Bearsville Theatre, the Woodstock Golf Club and the Reservoir Inn.
Although Tom seemed almost to be a Woodstock institution himself, he was born in the Bronx in 1954. By his own special reckoning, Tommy became a “country boy” in 1964 since he had lived half his life in Woodstock by then. His grandfather taught him to fish in the Little Beaverkill which was in Tommy’s backyard in the mountains of Wittenberg on land that would become Wilson State Park. More than four decades later, Tom married the love of his life, Joann, there in the park, in the most beautifully touching, and simultaneously the most hilarious wedding ceremony ever performed by a bare-legged brewmaster in a knee-length, maroon choir robe, as a couple hundred friends surrounded them in the valley below those mountains, looking out over that same stream.
Family and friends and fishing were the most important things in Tommy’s life. Tommy and Joann grew up together as kids and over the years grew closer together to become a family that included Joann’s son, James. James had the good fortune, as his Aunt Kathy says, to start life as Tom’s godson and to grow up as Tom’s stepson. Tom had the good fortune to see James begin a happy life with Theresa.
Although Tommy’s mom and sister, Jean and Jessie, moved to Colorado in 1973 and ultimately made their separate ways to California, Woodstock always remained “home” in their hearts because that’s where Tommy was. In 2001, Jean moved back to Woodstock to be near Tom and Jo and their family while Jessie and her husband Richard continued to travel back and forth between California and New York, spending several weeks in Woodstock almost every year.
As Tom’s friends have described him, he was a true gentleman; a great story-teller; a fount of humor and wit; a caring, generous person who was loved and respected; and while at work, he was frequently “the calm at the eye of many a late night storm” as one friend put it — a man who could take a bad situation and make it better — as he did during the year that he was living with cancer.
Over the years, Tom and many of his best friends dangled fishing lines off his rowboat on the Ashokan Reservoir. Tom and Joann also floated through several special moonlit nights together there. In recent weeks, when loading the boat in and out of the Ashokan got more difficult, Tommy put a boat in up at the Pepacton where the long drive was offset by the easier launch because he was going to keep fishing no matter what.
As the Manager of Keegan Ales for the past 7 years, Tommy planned many special events.
Brianne Olsson of Kingston, who worked with Tommy at Keegan’s, and called him “a legend in my world” said Wolf taught her quite a bit about the many aspects of the mixologist’s art. “Stay true to yourself, don’t let other people ruin your day, just take a deep breath…tact, selective sarcasm and a go-with-the-flow attitude will make you a happier person,” she said. “His selflessness and humbleness were only second to the big-hearted, caring person he was. I loved seeing the beautiful loving bond he and his beautiful wife Joann shared; it’s a love and respect for each other most only wish for.”
And in the final days of his life, Tommy and Joey Beesmer spent hours sitting on Tom’s front porch making plans for this bash. Many of you may remember Tommy’s unique rendition of taps on the trumpet for “last call” at the Tinker St. Cafe.
Please come join Tommy’s family and friends for one more “last call,” 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, September 6 at Keegan Ales in Kingston.