A Good "Family Man" Can Be Hard to Define
Updated: Jan 5
Guest Post By Mier Wolf
Former Mayor, Town of Chevy Chase, Maryland
Bob Wolf, my Dad, was praised as a family man at his funeral in 1982.
I believe that "family men" come in different flavors. My Dad worked most of the time since he owned a department store in our hometown of Austin Minnesota. For a long time, his schedule included Monday and Friday night work. He was not available for holiday parties in our town, especially Christmas, because it was his busy time of the year. We saw him at mealtime, and as my brother and I got older, we could stop in and see him at the store. A benefit of small-town living.
My parents took winter vacations to escape the Minnesota cold and snow. We had caretakers, one for many years who brought her family for mealtime to our house, and we played cards and ping pong after dinner. A pleasant memory.
We did not travel with our parents because my brother and I would go away to Camp Nebagamon in northern Wisconsin for eight weeks each summer. Once we adapted to the camp it became an important part of our lives for socialization and good role models.
I never played catch with my Dad. He always napped on Sundays after an exhausting week. One bonding activity, however, was that he took us to semi-pro baseball games in our local ballpark which we enjoyed. He (with a driver) took us once a year to a University of Minnesota football game in Minneapolis and a nice dinner afterward.
It was my Dad, one-on-one, that made all the difference for us. He was a very good listener. He took the time to actually hear anything we had to say, which became more frequent when we got older.
Politics was a topic for our family, which was especially true of my Dad. He liked Hubert Humphrey and basically the underdogs in life.
From early on, my Dad was one of the most affectionate people I've ever known. When he came home from work, he hugged us and always told my brother and me that we were his “pride and joy." When he came home from work when I was very little, we would dance around the living room.
It's maybe Pollyanna-ish to say, but I never had an issue with him or my mother. That doesn't seem possible in today's world, let alone back then.
When I went away to college in New York, I had my ups and downs but always had my Dad to listen to me on the phone or his written notes encouraging me to "keep the faith, Mier"– a motto to which I subscribe today, especially during the COVID-19 calamity.
I have been a dad for 48 years and a Grandpa for 12. My "kids" have thanked me, over and over, for their growing up. I don't remember playing catch with them or fishing either. By the way, my Dad ruled out fishing because he claimed alternatively that "Jews don't fish" and "I got a fishbone in my throat when I was growing up."
Despite this, my son is a wonderful father to his children. He’s a wiz around the house and a sports role model for his kids. He's a listener and kind. If he still thanks me for something small I might do for him, I always say, “Thank your grandparents – the two rocks and roses in my life.”
Mier Wolf is the dad of two, granddad of five, and husband for 51 years to wife Cathy. He most recently served as the Mayor of the Town of Chevy Chase, MD, for nine years and on its town council for 24. Previously, Mier worked for 31 years with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Office of General Counsel as a legal adviser and trial attorney. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and J.D. from St. John's University. His sustained volunteer efforts include 20 years at the Writer's Center, 13 years at Roundhouse Theater, and three years at Community-Bridges in Silver Spring, MD. He has volunteer awards from the U.S. Congress, the State of Maryland, Montgomery County, and the Town of Chevy Chase. Most recently, he was designated a distinguished alumnus by his hometown high school in Austin, MN, also the hometown of SPAM.