Gary Wolfe

Obituary of Gary D. Wolfe

Gary D. Wolfe (78) of Lower Paxton Township passed away on September 14, 2019. Born in Altoona, PA on March 19, 1941, he was the son of Donald and Norma (Cooper) Wolfe. Gary is survived by his wife of 52 years Susan (Mary Susan Olex); a son Mark of Harrisburg; a daughter Michelle Wolfe-Swansen (Cully Swansen) of Pittsville, WI; three grandchildren, Sierra Forester (Cliff) and Rachel Wolfe-Engleman (Paul) of Harrisburg and Eli Swansen of Minneapolis, MN. He dearly loved his two year old great-granddaughter Harper Grace Forester. He is also survived by two brothers, brother-in-law Daniel Olex, of Dallas, GA and sister-in-law Barbara Olex of Idaho Falls, ID, along with several nieces and nephews. A graduate of Altoona high school, Gary earned a B.S. degree in education from St. Francis University and a MLS degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He served in the U.S. Army reserves in the 341 Medical Company, Altoona, PA, where he received a soldier of the year award. Involved in local politics, he served as borough secretary in Loretto, PA and Sankertown, PA. Gary was a librarian and faculty member at St. Francis University. He was on the SFU alumni board and served as its president. In 1997, Gary received the Distinguished Alumunus award in public service from St. Francis University's alumni association. For many years, Gary worked as the director of the Centre County Library and Central PA District Library Center. In 1989, he became the Director of Library Development for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1995, he was appointed by Governor Tom Ridge as the Deputy Secretary of Education/Commissioner of Libraries and state librarian. During his tenure, he had the privilege of attending a conference on libraries sponsored by Laura Bush, as one of only five state librarians invited to the White House. Gary was a member of the Pennsylvania Library Association, serving as treasurer and a member of the PALA board of directors. In 1997, PALA presented him with the distinguished service award in recognition of exceptional meritorious statewide service to libraries of the commonwealth. During his retirement, Gary was active in the Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries, including a time as president. He was a member of the board of directors and served as president for the Lower Paxton township van service. Additionally, he worked part-time in the Hershey Park season pass office. Gary was an active member of the First Church of the Brethren who sang in the choir and served on church committees. Reading, listening to music, traveling, and attending Broadway plays and other local performances were sources of great enjoyment for him. He will be remembered for his kindness, wit, and sense of humor. Through all of his struggles and to the end, he kept his family laughing. Aside from the family he cherished, Gary loved libraries. In a speech about libraries in the technological age, Gary repeatedly and adamantly remarked that "libraries will survive." He dedicated his life wholeheartedly to this purpose, in service to the education of all. In lieu of a graveside service, Gary chose to donate his remains to the Hershey Medical Center in advancement of science. Visitation with the family (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and a memorial service (11 a.m.) will be held at Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren on September 28th, 2019. There will be a luncheon at the church immediately afterward. Instead of flowers, contributions may be made to The Living Witness Fund of the Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, 219 Hummel St. Harrisburg, PA 17104 or to the Pennsylvania Library Association scholarship fund, 220 Cumberland Parkway #10 Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Final arrangements have been entrusted to the Dailey Funeral Home.
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