Humanitarian, longtime Do it Best CEO Don Wolf dies at 90

Local News

Don Wolf

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Don Wolf, the longtime head of Do it Best Corp. and an active humanitarian and community philanthropist, has died. He was 90.

Wolf began work with Hardware Wholesalers Inc. in 1947. Within 20 years, he was appointed CEO. As the company’s head, he grew what would become Do it Best from one distribution center serving 12 states with $35 million in annual sales to a co-op with more than $3 billion in sales and six distribution centers serving the entire continental United States and several foreign countries. Wolf retired in 1992.

Outside of the workplace, in 1972, Wolf co-founded and served as the first president of Big Brothers of Greater Fort Wayne. He would later serve as president of the national board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America from 1977-1980.

In 1989, Wolf founded Study Connection with Fort Wayne Community Schools. Today the program trains and provides approximately 1,000 volunteer tutors each year to help students with homework, confidence and self-esteem.

Wolf was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame and National Home Center Hall of Fame, and he has also received the American Hardware Manufacturers Association Eagle Award, North American Retail Hardware Association Distinguished Service Award and was named Humanitarian of the Year by the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana. He’s been awarded two Sagamore of the Wabash awards, Indiana’s highest civilian honor. In 2013, he was awarded the state’s highest individual honor, the Sachem Award.

“Everyone in the Do it Best family is incredibly saddened by Don’s passing,” said President and CEO Dan Starr. “Do it Best Corp. would not be the company we are without the passionate vision of Don Wolf, and the same can be said of the city of Fort Wayne. In addition to his unparalleled contributions to our industry, his philanthropic work here and throughout the region has positively impacted the lives of thousands of people.”

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry issued the following statement on Wolf’s passing:

Our community mourns today at the passing of Don Wolf. Don is one of the most generous and authentic men I’ve ever met. I was honored to call him a friend. A lot of people will remember Don for his successes in the home improvement industry, but I most appreciated Don’s commitment to so many worthy causes such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana and Study Connection in partnership with Fort Wayne Community Schools. Don was always giving back and thinking of others first. Earlier this year I had the privilege of proclaiming June 18, 2019, as Don Wolf Day in the City of Fort Wayne as a way to thank him for his many accomplishments. It was a moving celebration for a man who did so much to make Fort Wayne a better place. Cindy and I express our deepest condolences to Ginny and the entire Wolf family.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry

Wolf is survived by his wife Ginny, as well as their four children, Donna, Lisa, Rebecca, and Rick, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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