Richard G. Wolf

March 15, 1936 - April 30, 2017
Richard G. Wolf, March 15, 1936 - April 30, 2017

Richard G. Wolf, a producer and director of documentary films, television series, and commercials, died of kidney and heart failure on April 30 at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue. He was 81.

Mr. Wolf started his career in the late 1950s as a soundman and crewmember “on every conceivable type of production, from features to spots to TV series,” he wrote in his résumé. “You name it, I did it!”

He graduated from film school at the City College of New York, but had begun taking jobs in the industry even before finishing high school. At just 14, he was a messenger for an animation studio, and later, while going to film school at night, he worked by day as an opaquer and assistant animation cameraman, “photographing one cell at a time, a hideous job,” he told The Southampton Press in a 2001 interview.

Among his many projects, he produced “Profiles in Diplomacy,” a PBS special on the United States Foreign Service, and “A Measure of Trust,” about a group of Santa Barbara, Calif., residents and their battle with the Exxon Corporation, and directed “Ice,” an award-winning documentary about Arctic exploration.

He was also a senior producer of corporate campaigns for IBM, Exxon, and General Mills, among other companies, and produced and directed spots for Mercedes-Benz and Philip Morris.

His final film project, in 2007, was “The Dolphin Dilemma,” a documentary about a dolphin trainer on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

He moved to East Hampton from New York in the late 1990s.

In East Hampton, Mr. Wolf was a Democratic committeeman for a time and also served in the early 2000s on the East Hampton Citizens Advisory Committee.

He enjoyed fly-fishing. “He always put the fish back,” his wife, Ann Schafer Wolf, said. “I would have to beg him to keep one bluefish.” He loved to read and garden and was an excellent cook. “Everybody wanted him to open a restaurant, but he refused.”

Mr. Wolf was born in Manhattan on March 15, 1936, to Harry Wolf and the former Phoebe Rosenthal. He had a daughter, Sasha Wolf, from his first marriage and gained a stepdaughter, Nina Schafer, when he was married on May 31, 1984, to the former Ann Schafer. His daughter lives in Manhattan; his stepdaughter in East Hampton.

Mr. Wolf was cremated. A gathering of friends will be held at his house on Oakview Highway at some point this spring.