Former Columbus Dispatch Publisher John F. Wolfe dies

Mary Yost

Former Columbus Dispatch Publisher John F. Wolfe

John F. Wolfe, who led his iconic family's publishing, broadcast and related business interests for decades, has died at 72. Reports had circulated in recent months that the former publisher of the Columbus Dispatch had been ill but his penchant for personal privacy kept those stories off local news pages.

The Dispatch reports that Wolfe passed away today at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, an institution for which he had been a great champion-both the university and the hospital. He had been treated for cancer at OSU's James Cancer Hospital.

One of the many ways Wolfe had great impact on the Columbus business community was in his work as a founder, with Les Wexner of L Brands, of the Columbus Partnership. Columbus CEO featured Wolfe and Wexner in a joint interview regarding their work with the Partnership last year.

"In our city's history, simply no one has done more to move our community forward. His commitment to his family, our city, his beloved Buckeyes and our community's health care providers is second to none," Alex Fischer, Partnership president and CEO, said in notifying his members of Wolfe's passing.

Fischer added, "In his own words, one of his proudest accomplishments was the creation of the Columbus Partnership and the work we do collectively every day. He often talked to me about the collaborative nature of the Columbus business, civic and political leadership as our greatest asset. It's a standard that he forged, always asking me and others the question, "What do others think?" on so many issues. He held the highest standard, expectation and respect for community engagement at all levels. His commitment to Columbus will continue through our work and will serve to honor his memory every day."

In a statement, OSU President Michael V. Drake said, "The Ohio State University joins our community in mourning the loss of John F. Wolfe. John's influence on our city, our university and on each of us will leave a legacy that will endure the passage of time. In addition to the family's generous and wide-ranging support of Ohio State, John most recently brought vision, perspective and good humor to his service on the Wexner Medical Center Board, always in pursuit of deepening the partnership between the university and the community to our great mutual benefit."

"I am deeply saddened at the passing of one of the great stalwarts of Columbus. He was as much a part of the city as the city was a part of him. Few people have contributed as much to the growth of the community as John and the Wolfe family. I will miss him personally and professionally and lift up Ann and his family in my prayers," said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther in a statement.

The Wolfe family had owned and published the Dispatch since 1905 until it was sold to GateHouse Media last year. The Wolfe family bought Columbus CEO in 2012 and the magazine was included in the 2015 sale.

Survivors include his wife of over 50 years, Ann Isaly Wolfe; daughters Sara Wolfe (Michael) Perrini, Rita J. Wolfe, and Katie Wolfe (Clark) Lloyd.