Wolf, John M.
Interview Date
June 15, 1995
Respondent prominent businessman, born 1920 in Pittsburgh area
[T1S1]. Son of Irwin D. Wolf and Martha Kaufmann Wolf. Lists family members; their background. Respondent mentions his birth; extended family's beginnings in retailing; father's early career. Respondent gives history of Kaufmann's Department Store; family members involved with store including its founder Jacob Kaufmann; mentions Gimbels stores started by cousins; bad blood between Jacob, cousins. Respondent continues to detail store, family history in Pittsburgh. Respondent talks about Edgar Kaufmann's involvement with store; Fallingwater; father's involvement with Kaufmanns; his childhood; settling in Pittsburgh in 1924; living in Fox Chapel; schooling in Pittsburgh, Los Alamos.
[T1S2] Respondent mentions how Los Alamos changed in 1939; lack of religious education; return to Pittsburgh. Respondent talks about family's involvement with Rodef Shalom; anti-Semitism; attending Williams College in Massachusetts; college, graduate school activities. Respondent describes traveling experiences in Europe in 1938. Respondent talks about training in Navy; college life; early discharge from Navy; studies at Harvard Business School; involvement in war effort; working for Kaufmann's. Respondent mentions marriage to Jean in 1944; early married life; their family. Respondent details his career in Kaufmann's; family member's involvements with store; Edgar's decision to sell store to May Company.
[T2S3] Respondent continues talking about Kaufmann's; his decision to leave store; buying NAPCO/NVP Inc., which manufactures vinyl siding, windows; children's involvement with business. Respondent discusses business; his involvement with company now. Respondent reminisces about children's childhood, education, lives today; his grandchildren; second marriage to Leatrice. Respondent mentions family not religious; Respondent describes father, Edgar's involvement with city culture; his involvement with Jewish community including Emma Farm Assn.; Federation of Jewish Welfare board. Respondent continues talking about Kaufmann's cultural involvement in arts; father friend of Walt Disney. Respondent lists father's Jewish, political involvements. Respondent details trucker strike while he worked at Kaufmann's. Respondent compares father's disciplining him to how he disciplines his own children. Respondent talks about Pittsburgh's Jewish life; its relationship to community; anti-Semitism in school; professors who influenced him; college education.
[T2S4] Respondent continues talking about college; marriage. Respondent reminisces about childhood; summer jobs; family vacations at beach; courtship with Jean; her education; their marriage, family; her death from cancer. Respondent describes Jewish reactions toward Europe right before WWII; father lobbied to allow more Jews into America. Respondent gives impressions on depression Era; how Kaufmann family fared during this time. Respondent reminisces about his experiences at Kaufmann's; extended Kaufmann, Wolf family; tie to Paragould, AK. Respondent details changes in steel industry, retail businesses. Respondent continues talking about Kaufmann's; its opening in malls. Respondent mentions father's death in 1956; family's involvement in Jewish community; connection to, history of Irene Kaufmann Center (IKC).
[T3S5] Respondent continues talking about IKC; its connection to Emma Kaufmann Camp. Respondent describes his involvement, interest, philosophy on Russian refugees that are settling in Pittsburgh.
Antisemitism; Business; Industries; Europe; Fallingwater (Pa.); Gimbels Department Store (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Irene Kaufmann Settlement (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Kaufmann, Edgar, 1910-1989; Kaurmann's Department Store (Pittsburgh, Pa.); May Co. (Cleveland, Ohio); Napco/Nvp Inc.; Paragould (Ark.); Retail; Wolf, Irwin D.; Wolf, Martha Kaufmann
Birth Date
Pittsburgh, PA
Occupation (father)
Length (hours)
Sacks, Sylvia
Collateral Materials
Box 107 FF 25
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