BRATISLAVA – I was too young to appreciate his human-rights work at the time, but my uncle’s sudden death encouraged me to revisit the remarkable efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry. His obituary, from The Miami Herald:
Dr. Robert “Bob” Wolf, a man who always asked “What can I do for you?” died of cardiac arrest at his North Miami-Dade home Saturday, his family said. He was 77.
As chief director of Community Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides dental care for the needy in Miami-Dade County, Wolf made people smile with his work in dentistry and his wry sense of humor.
“He was very driven,” said his daughter, Caryn Wolf, 51, who lives in Oakland, Calif. “Other guys were golfing, and he was running around trying to get kids dental care.”
Wolf’s volunteer work began in the 1970s, when he and his wife, Myriam, became involved with the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry. He was chairman of the organization for eight years in the 1970s, lobbying Congress to allow Jews in the former Soviet Union to enter the Unites States and Israel.
Wolf’s work continued when he and his wife helped establish a chapter of the Association for the Advancement of the Mentally Handicapped in Miami-Dade County to benefit their son, Eric, who is developmentally disabled.
“It helped me get a job. It helped me get out on my own,” said Eric, 50, who lives on his own in North Miami Beach. “He helped out a lot of people.”
Wolf was known to be eccentric — taking to the tennis courts in scrubs, a floppy hat and white lotion all over his face, said his daughter Caryn.
“He looked totally un-Sports Illustrated, but he’d go out and kick all his friends’ butts,” she said.
Caryn said her father got along with everybody “like Switzerland,” and was attentive to his children.
Said his son Ken Wolf, 46, who lives in Cambridge, Mass.: “He looked at what was unique about [people] and he really celebrated it. He made them feel good about who they were.”
Wolf was born in Philadelphia, where he grew up and went to dental school. He moved to South Florida in the 1960s after serving as a dentist in the Air Force.
Wolf is survived by his wife, a sister, four children and three grandchildren.
A trust, the Dr. Bob Wolf Residency Scholarship Fund, has been created. Donations can be mailed to Community Smiles, 750 NW 20th St., Miami, Fla. 33127.