Irene Wolf, a long-time supporter of the arts in Philadelphia and Maine, died at her Philadelphia home after a short illness on May 8.  She was 93.  Her life — an exciting adventure story — was the subject of a recent film. 

She was born in Moscow on Dec. 6, 1916 into an affluent home. Her father, Onissim Goldovsky, was a prominent attorney; her mother, Lea Luboshutz, a famous concert violinist.  Within a year of Irene’s birth, her father died and the family lost its wealth in the Russian Revolution.  Irene’s mother was forced to play concerts in factories to secure enough food for the family. In 1922, the family escaped and emigrated to Berlin, then to Paris where Irene was raised by a grandmother while her mother went on international tours.  At the age of 12, Irene and her family came to the United States where her mother began touring under the famous impresario, Sol Hurok, and accepted a teaching position at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.  Thanks to a Curtis summer school in Rockport, Irene established summer roots in Midcoast Maine that lasted until her death.

Irene breezed through high school “speaking four languages and drawing maps” (as she later recalled), marrying her husband Walter Wolf, a Philadelphia businessman, just before graduation at the age of 16.  Subsequently, she did graduate from Cheltenham High School outside of Philadelphia and completed some college. The Wolf’s 67-year marriage ended with his death in the year 2001.  The Wolfs had six children, five of whom survive her.

Irene Wolf’s volunteer and philanthropic activities encompassed the music world, especially music education, in Philadelphia and Maine.  Among the organizations she helped found was the Philadelphia chapter of Young Audiences. In Maine, she helped establish Bay Chamber Concerts and Youth Arts, the latter launched with proceeds from a memorial concert for her mother.  Other favorite organizations included the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and numerous community organizations.

Irene and Billy Wolf’s philanthropy tended to be quiet and often anonymous.  Irene was asked often whether organizations could use her name to put on buildings, launch programs, and even, in one case, to name a community music school.  She would always graciously refuse saying, in her practical way, “You will get my support anyway.  Why not use the naming opportunity to secure more support from someone else?”

Irene Wolf greatest love was her family, which she nurtured throughout her life. Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and their spouses number 52 plus a son, grandson and great grandson who pre-deceased her.  Her direct survivors include daughters, Alexandra Wolf Fogel, a retired philanthropy administrator and a select person in Rockport; Catherine Wolf, a NewYork-based actress; Lucy Wolf Tuton, a medical educator at the University of Pennsylvania; and sons, Nicholas Wolf, a New Jersey-based business man; and Thomas Wolf, a musician and arts consultant.  Another musician son, Andrew Wolf, a pianist, died in 1985.

Irene Wolf was someone who could talk easily about a life well lived as well as her impending death when it was imminent.  “My wish,” she said, “is that I can die at home surrounded by my family.”  That wish was granted.

Memorial services will be held in Pennsylvania and in Rockport. The first will take place in Chestnut Hill, Penn., at 606 W. Mermaid Lane at 11 a.m. on May 22 and the second at the Rockport Opera House at 11 a.m. on July 24.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Bay Chamber Concerts or Merryspring Horticultural Center, both in Camden or the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.