Lives Well Lived
(Dick Wolfe, Bill Gatton, Imogene Flick)
I first met Dr. Richard Wolfe at a gas station between Abingdon and Lebanon, sometime back in the ‘80s. I happened to catch him checking on one of the pumps there. I didn’t really know who he was at the time, but he looked to be a very interesting, likely very smart, and possibly very friendly soul, so I struck up a conversation with him. To this day, I think I may still be catching my breath from our talk. This man lit up like the noon sun when he began propounding about the wonderful advantages of the liquified coal/diesel mix he had created (while working at Bristol’s United Coal Company) to be used to power vehicles.
No, that new technology never got a true hold on consumers. But such setbacks never dampened Dick Wolfe’s entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit. He just got going again with something else. Time after time in his life, he brought a joyously childlike enthusiasm to whatever he did.
Indeed, I found out I had been right about my first impression in surmising how smart this man was - Dick had earned a doctorate degree in science and knew the intricate inner workings of both nuclear and chemical physics.
I don’t have the room here to list all of Dick’s scientific accomplishments, but I’ll name a couple more. He developed technologies that aided in the safe disposal of nuclear waste material and he collaborated with NASA on the Apollo Space Program.
However it wasn’t until later - about three decades later - that I learned that this man’s heart was every bit as generous and good as his mind was quick and bright.