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Businessman, philanthropist Alvin Wolff dies

Thu., Nov. 22, 2007

Spokane Valley real estate magnate Alvin J. Wolff Sr. died Sunday. He was 89 and leaves behind a legacy of business achievement and community involvement.

The son of a noted optometrist and medical device inventor, Wolff founded his own company in 1949, several years after serving in the infantry during World War II. He was a West Valley High School graduate, and attended the University of Washington and Gonzaga University’s law school. He was given an honorary law degree two years ago.

His real estate business, the Wolff Company, grew from brokering and managing single residential properties into handling commercial buildings and apartments. Today, under the guidance of his son Alvin Wolff Jr. (“Fritz”), the company has diversified with a portfolio of holdings worth $3 billion.

Alvin Wolff Sr. was active in local, state and national real estate associations and became involved in Spokane County politics, serving as chairman of the local Republican Party from 1978 to 1980.

“Alvin’s reputation was incredible in the real estate business. His word was his bond, and with that he developed an extremely successful family business,” said Pete Stanton, CEO of Washington Trust Bank, the financial institution with a long history of working with the Wolff Company. “He has created a family legacy that rivals any in the Northwest.”

The Wolff family also has used its success to become community benefactors. Some projects, including donations to Gonzaga and area foundations, are well-known. Others are not publicized, but include housing and financial assistance to the community’s poor families.

“His inquisitive intellect and great sense of humor will be deeply missed,” said family friend and attorney James Black. “Alvin was a man with the utmost professionalism.

“But most importantly, he cherished family above all else, gave liberally to his community of his time, talent, and means, and was admired by all.”

Wolff was born Sept. 30, 1918, in Spokane to Jesse and Edith Wolff. His grandparents were early settlers in the area, according to an obituary that appeared in Wednesday’s Spokesman-Review.

As a boy he sold newspapers and delivered groceries.

He is survived by his wife Jane, of Spokane; a daughter, Mitchelin Wolff, of Olympia; two sons, Alvin Wolff Jr. of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Will Wolff, of Snohomish; along with 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Gonzaga University’s Wolff Auditorium.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to Hospice of Spokane (121 S. Arthur St. Spokane, WA 99202; 509-456-0438), Morning Star Boys’ Ranch (P.O. Box 8087 Spokane, WA 99203; 509-448-1412), or The Alvin J. Wolff Fund at Gonzaga University (502 E. Boone, Spokane, WA 99258).


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