By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday put a name on a small downtown park, rededicating it to Chub DeWolfe, one of Toledo’s most beloved personalities from earlier this century.
William “Chub” DeWolfe was a reporter and columnist in Toledo almost 50 years, spending most of his career at The Blade. His last column was published in The Blade Feb. 10, 1948, the day after he died.
Appropriately, the park is alongside The Blade building on a triangle of land bounded by Huron, Orange, and Beech streets.
Mr. DeWolfe’s homespun charm and positive outlook on life made him a celebrity across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
“He truly was a man who believed the sun would shine, ultimately, on Toledo,” John Robinson Block, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, said at the rededication. “We must try to perpetuate the memory of those who played a role in the history of this area, and Chub DeWolfe certainly did.”
Two DeWolfe family members – grandson Bill DeWolfe of Colorado and daughter-in-law Fern DeWolfe of Arizona – came to Toledo for the ceremony. Mayor Finkbeiner presented them with proclamations from the city.
“We sure appreciate the thoughts behind getting all this organized,” Bill DeWolfe said. “This was a terrific day.”
Others who spoke included William Block, Jr., co-publisher and president of The Blade, and Toledo Fire Chief Michael Bell.
For more than two decades until his death, Chub DeWolfe wrote “Among the Folks,” a column chronicling the beauty and grace of everyday life in Toledo. It didn’t focus on politics or economic trends, even though Mr. DeWolfe was a former city hall reporter.
Instead, it remembered the kindnesses of court bailiffs, the chill of a winter cold, and the wonders of fishing in northern Michigan. It was for, and about, the common people of Toledo.
“Saw a robin on the lawn the other day,” read one of his columns. “One leg was broken and on the opposite side a wing was broken, too. But that fellow was putting up a game fight. He wobbled along, now and then stopping, turning on a side, and resting. But he was looking forward and kept going on.
“If a robin can do that, and has the will to keep it up, a human being, no matter what his troubles, ought not to give up, should he?”
“Among the Folks” was so popular that some of Mr. DeWolfe’s fan mail was addressed with only his picture – cut out of the newspaper – and the words “Toledo, Ohio.” The mail always would reach him.
He loved to take weekend jaunts around the region in his trusty old cars, named Mike, Minnie, and Marigold. He put thousands of miles on those cars, many of them detailed in his column.
Mr. DeWolfe was a small man. At 4 feet, 11 inches tall, he had to step on something to kiss his 6-foot-tall wife, Fay. His nickname came not from his size, but the chub, a fish he used for bait on his fishing expeditions.
For years, the small plot across from Toledo Fire Station No. 1 was called DeWolfe Park. A monument to Toledo firefighters who died in the line of duty stands there.
But until yesterday, there had never been a sign or plaque declaring the park’s name.
A granite memorial with a plaque on top has Mr. DeWolfe’s likeness etched on the front and a quote from his final column.
A 1945 photo shows Mr. DeWolfe leaning on a picket fence in that park, surveying the land. At the time, he used it as a victory garden, growing corn in the middle of the downtown, his grandson said.
Mayor Finkbeiner applauded Mr. DeWolfe’s practice of only reporting positive news about the area.
“It’s so important to have people build up this community, and that’s what Chub DeWolfe did,” he said.
For people who knew Mr. De Wolfe, the park’s location is a fitting tribute.
“Chub would always park Marigold right up on the curb of the park here,” said Cliff Quinn, a 32-year veteran of The Blade who knew Mr. DeWolfe well and attended yesterday’s ceremony.
“When the police would come down to look at it, someone would yell, ‘Chub, Marigold’s in trouble!’ and he’d rush down to move it.”
On July 10, 1943, Mr. DeWolfe gave his many readers “A Thought for Today: Live, so that when you die nobody will say, ‘Who cares a damn.'”
Yesterday’s ceremony showed Toledo still cares because, as Mr. DeWolfe wrote in his last column, words now engraved on the monument in the park named for him:
“I am a country town reporter. I like people. I dislike none.”