Mother gently nudged offspring to success
Gerry Wolk instilled confidence in her children, said her daughter, Karen Wolk Feinstein, president of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh.
“Our mother was our cheerleader who expected, but never pushed, for her children to do well,” Feinstein said.
Mrs. Wolk, of Oakland, died of cancer on Thursday, May 20, 2004, at her residence. She was 80.
Mrs. Wolk was born in New York City and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, where she graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1939.
A war widow whose husband, a Navy fighter pilot, was killed when his plane was shot down over Tokyo during World War II, she came to Pittsburgh from Des Moines with her father and daughter, Karen.
In 1949, she married Leonard Wolk, whose family owned and operated Sol Wolk & Sons, Uptown, the clothing store where every boy of that generation received his suit for bar mitzvah, Feinstein said.
The Wolks resided in Squirrel Hill and their family grew to include another daughter, Jane Wolk Spector, now a real estate broker in Tampa, Fla.
“My mother was an ode to perfection,” Feinstein said. “She was elegant and dignified when it came to herself and to her home. She made things work. And even as she was dying, she still had a sense of presence about her.
“Mom was the magnet that drew the family together for family events. She kept tabs on everything the family did and knew everyone’s birthday. She enjoyed being with people and they enjoyed being with her.”
Feinstein said her mother was an avid reader who knew what was going on in her community and the world.
As a volunteer at the former Montefiore Hospital in Oakland, where Leonard Wolk served as treasurer, Mrs. Wolk helped out on the floors and was involved with the hospital balls.
“In her earlier days of volunteering, my mother, as a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, participated in the Ship-A-Box Overseas Program,” Feinstein said.
Council women throughout the country, as part of their war relief efforts, would pack and ship boxes of clothing, magazines and toys to preschool children overseas, a program that continued after the war.
Mrs. Wolk is survived by her husband, Leonard Wolk; two daughters, Karen Feinstein and her husband, Steven, of Squirrel Hill, and Jane Wolk Spector, of Tampa; five grandchildren; a great-grandson; and a brother, Stanley Krum, of Des Moines.
She was predeceased by a brother, Bernard Krum.
Services will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Ave., Oakland, with visitation one hour before the service. Arrangements by the Ralph Schugar Funeral Chapel, Shadyside. Interment is private.
Contributions may be made to The Gerry Wolk Fund at the United Jewish Federation, 234 McKee Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.