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Our View: Wolff left gift, model to follow

Thirty years ago, Dick Wolff gave Woodbury a gift.

Along with his wife Sharon, he opened the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf in 1983. Today, that gift continues giving to community members, though its founder has passed on. Dick died last week at the age of 78.

He leaves behind a legacy of compassion and outreach that will be hard to match.

Raised in a single-family household that struggled to make ends meet, Wolff learned at an early age that sometimes folks need help.

"He related to people who were having temporary financial struggles, so he never confused people's circumstances with who they were as people," his daughter Laura told the Bulletin.

That ability to empathize followed him into adulthood, where he made it his mission to help those in need.

Most noticeably, that desire took the form of the food shelf.

Dick, who worked full-time as a 3M salesman, poured his heart and soul into the food shelf, which grew into a collective effort between seven Woodbury churches. Along the way, he also helped found Trinity Presbyterian Church in Woodbury.

Over the years, the food shelf has become the rock against which many community members have used to help prop themselves up as they've worked to get their financial footing. We'd argue that along with Sharon, Dick was that rock.

Dick was able to accomplish much in his life. But what he was able to give back to the community is what serves as inspiration. His daughter Laura called him "the ultimate role model." We figure that sounds about fitting. The model Dick represented leaves a legacy that moves us not just to be good citizens, but to reach out to others in need.

Dick may be laid to rest, but his mission lives on. It's now up to the rest of us to see that his spirit of compassion, generosity and hard work lives on in the community.