St. William Catholic Church - FaithStreet

The Wolfe Man

by Cathy Poponak

The wolf character in fairytales and folklore often portrays the bad guy in a story.  The wolf can be a very scary and cunning antagonist, tormenting the likes of young Peter, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs to name a few.   However, we have a “wolf” at St. William Parish, who’s a really good human being, as well as a very interesting and creative character.    Eighty-six year old Lee Wolfe is a husband, father, engineer, craftsman, local historian, collector, and all around nice guy.  He and his wife Judy are long time St. William parishioners and served as ushers at the 11 o’clock mass for many years.

My husband and I recently had the privilege of touring Lee’s home workshop, and found the visit to be an amazing experience.  Lee is a self-described “putterer” who loves the quest of creating something new and challenging. He loves to keep his mind active and involved in new designs rather than repeating the same project.   His handmade wooden canoe is a perfect example of his work.  It’s a beautiful, well-engineered piece of art as well as being fully functional.

Every area in his shop is perfectly organized to reflect his many interests.  His antique tool collection is vast, and Lee has an interesting story behind every tool. Also amazing are the wooden cabinets and chests he has built to contain his collection.     

An engineer trained at the GM Institute in Flint Michigan, Lee is also intrigued by antique precision instruments. He has an impressive collection of tools made by the Lufkin Board and Log Rule Company of Cleveland, Ohio.  Lufkin began offering steel tape measures in 1888 and was the largest manufacturer of steel measuring tapes in the United States.  On display is a booklet entitled "The Amazing Story of Measurement" published by the Lufkin Rule Company in 1949 that presents the history of measurement (like feet, yards, furlongs, and miles) in comic book format.

 Of special interest to me was his knowledge of local history.  He has vintage pictures of downtown Warren portraying the time when many of these tools and instruments would have been sold and used to build the homes and buildings of the period.

Lee also collects Ohio glass milk bottles from the olden days when milkmen from small local dairies would arrive early in the morning to deliver milk and other dairy products to your doorstep.  Of special meaning to Lee is an embossed labeled milk bottle from his great grandfather Eli J. Spencer’s Salem Ohio dairy.

It would be impossible to recount everything we learned about Lee Wolfe, his handcrafted creations, antique collections, and fascinating workshop in a few words; however, what keeps coming to mind is his graciousness, and enthusiasm to share his knowledge.  I just can’t help but “howl” about it!


Volume 2015, Issue 1