ForeverMissed
Neil Wolfman was a man of character and compassion who touched the lives of many. Neil cared greatly about his impact on the world, always endeavoring to do what's right even when difficult. Though his loss is immense, he can live on through all of us. 

Think of the good you saw in him - his mentorship, kindness, problem-solving, scientific inquiry, or many other great qualities - and strive to incorporate more of it into your own life. Have the tough but necessary conversations he would. Reach out to the colleague, neighbor, or student you see struggling. Invest deeply in the people of your life. Ask questions. Love, accept, and advocate for people of all stripes. Pay whatever impact he had on you forward.

We will miss and remember Neil Wolfman forever, a true mensch.
Posted by Rose W on March 17, 2020
My BC years were a very difficult time in my life, and I was not a star student of Dr. Wolfman's by any means. But he knew I had potential and never gave up on me. I know he would have been even more helpful if I had let him know more about my struggle. Looking back, I let him know that he was one of the very few-- one of the only-- at that school who genuinely cared about my well-being, and wanted to see me do well and succeed, despite the academic turmoil of some very personally challenging semesters.

I had so much admiration for Dr. Wolfman-- his brilliance, unwavering dedication to his students, and willingness to go above and beyond in supporting us-- and I communicated this to him often after graduating from BC. I was so excited that he would lead the program for first-generation college premed students, as I felt so strongly that he more than anyone possessed the knowledge of how to help students like me avoid the many mistakes I had made, and he had the compassion and insight needed to make a difference.

It took a post-bacc program, a master's program, and much sacrifice for me to finally compensate for the abysmal premed GPA with which I graduated; yet Dr. Wolfman was supportive of my efforts and my ambition throughout. He knew exactly how difficult it would be for me to get into medical school, and he was realistic because this is important; but he nevertheless continued to support my hopes and my journey.

I never forgot this, and I was incredibly excited to tell him about my acceptance into medical school years later, after abandoning my dream to pursue other avenues, but then finally returning to face my fears and conquer my past.

Dr. Wolfman was like a father to me at a time when I did not have stability in my life, or anyone to rely upon. His time with students was not just to teach chemistry, but to teach invaluable life lessons, which we eagerly absorbed and internalized. Regardless of premed aptitude, Dr. Wolfman gifted his students with his time, his energy, and his kindness.

Dr. Wolfman is the embodiment of the essential qualities any good teacher must have: faith in one's students, humility despite his brilliance and talent in teaching, and dedication, not just to the results and to the students who succeed-- but crucially-- to those who struggle.

As someone who has now had the honor of teaching at a community college of predominantly first-generation college students, Dr. Wolfman will always be my inspiration. And I will never forget his friendship, nor his kindness.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 14, 2020
By Greg, BC grad:
I want to express my deep gratitude for the role Dr. Wolfman played in my education and development as a young college student.

Back in 2006, I entered BC as an eager but nervous premed student. It feels like yesterday that I sat in Dr. Wolfman's general chemistry course, which was the first lecture on my first day of college. He had quite a flare for the dramatic, painting a vivid picture of the hard work set before our class, and imparting the splendor and mystery of chemistry with a few well timed pranks. I still remember the gasps of my classmates as he feigned tripping on the lecture hall stairs, releasing some sort of innocuous smoke onto his audience.

What I remember most about Dr Wolfman was his passion for teaching. He made a large lecture hall feel personable and unintimidating. His love for the science was palpable. You worked hard in Dr. Wolfman's classes, but his vigor for teaching was inspirational. He would always make time for the students that had a question or were struggling with a concept. His review sessions prior to exams would extend late into the evenings, and it clearly brought him great joy to witness his students progress in their understanding of chemistry.

I had the chance to return to BC last weekend since I happened to be back in Boston. I returned to the lecture hall where it all began. A flood of memories returned - especially seeing the faded chemistry compounds scrawled on the chalk boards. I snapped a few photos and then took off. Later that very same day, one of my close friends to this day whom I met in Dr. Wolfman's class, shared the sad news of his passing with me.

I'll always have the utmost respect and appreciation for Dr. Wolfman. His legacy will live on.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 14, 2020
By Patrick, BC grad:

Professor Wolfman was an incredible teacher, but he went above and beyond that so much more for his students. For me, he was a mentor in my application process for medical school. During one of our discussions, he produced a handwritten list of medical schools that he thought I should apply for. I still have that paper, and have always found it meaningful for an unclear reason, perhaps just a physical memento of a personal bond between a teacher and his pupil.

Another fond memory and a story I still share to this day: A classroom demonstration of a chemical principle. The principle was that at lower temperatures, the volume of a gas would decrease. So he had a balloon and a vat of some very cold liquid (I believe a small amount of liquid nitrogen). When he placed the air-filled balloon in the vat, the balloon of course shrunk. Now for the funny part. He said that the liquid was so cold and dangerous, that he had to take it out of the classroom for special disposal. He started carrying it up the stairs out of the lecture hall but stopped halfway. He said something like "Or I could just..." And with that, he swung the vat to throw the liquid over the heads of all the students. Everyone screamed, but the liquid vaporized in the air harmlessly! I cherish the memory.

I'll always remember the contagious passion he had as a teacher, a passion that inspired hard work. And I'll always remember fondly a great teacher and mentor, the kind of teacher that a student is lucky to get a handful of throughout their learning career.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Dan, BC Professor:
i knew neil as a colleague who deeply cared not only about his students but also the entirety of boston college students. together with other concerned faculty and staff, we served on the "indigenous helpers" committee that was organized by tom mcguinness (university counseling services and associate vice provost) several years ago with the purpose of bringing together "faculty to whom students regularly turn for personal advice, counsel, support, venting, etc." neil's passion about helping students navigate the challenges facing them in their academic and social lives was so clearly evident. when tom retired from bc, neil became co-facilitator with craig burns (director of university counseling services).

neil also was a consistent participant in boston college hillel events. in particular, i recall him attending our afternoon "schmooze with jews" social [for students, staff, and faculty], and noted how disappointed some students were if they missed getting to meet and schmooze with him before he headed back to his office or home.

neil's exceptional menschlichkeit—level of integrity, compassion, humility, and honor—leads me to suggest that he was, indeed, a lamedvavnik. according to the jewish mystical (kabbalistic) tradition, in every generation there are 36 righteous individuals whose identities are hidden, not known either to others or to themselves. for the sake of these hidden righteous ones and their ongoing acts of compassion and lovingkindness, the whole of humanity is preserved.

neil fully embodied these characteristics. he will be sorely missed.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Leah, BC grad:

Dr. Wolfman was unlike any other professor I've had, and I forever will be indebted to him in so many ways.

I was another timid pre-med my freshman year at BC, and I remember being so impressed by how much Professor Wolfman seemed to care about me, a lowly freshman. I have an identical twin sister who also went to BC, and I think what touched me the most was that Dr. Wolfman would say hello to my sister on campus and use her name-- he never mixed us up. My dad sat in on the class during parents' weekend, and when I shared the news of Professor Wolfman's passing, my dad said, "He was so very gracious to me that day-- I still remember him fondly." It is so rare to have a professor who cares so much about students as a whole person.

I ended up switching from pre-med, and I'm now getting an MPH in epidemiology (Professor Wolfman wrote one of my recommendation letters). I genuinely don't think that I would be where I am today without his guidance and support. When I withdrew from organic chemistry sophomore year, rather than chiding me or saying that I'd regret not going to medical school, he encouraged me to pursue a career that would be an even better fit for me and that would use my talents for good.

He was an incredibly special man, and I am heartbroken that he was taken from your family far too soon... I will never forget about Dr. Wolfman and the many life lessons he gave me and so many other students.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Lindsay, BC grad:
Dr. Wolfman was my general chemistry professor at Boston College, and he became the most impactful mentor that I have had thus far in my career. When I wanted to study abroad, I was repeatedly discouraged by my pre-med advisors. Dr. Wolfman encouraged me to pave my own path to medicine. His unwavering support continued as I studied abroad, went onto graduate school, and finally, medical school. I am now an Emergency Medicine doctor, and I can only hope that Dr. Wolfman knew what a huge role in played in that accomplishment.
During my time at Boston College, I also had the opportunity to dog-sit for Dr. Wolfman and his family; his compassion and love for his students & family (and pets!) continues to inspire me. I will forever strive to bring a small piece of Dr. Wolfman's compassion to work every day, and I hope that I can one day motivate a student, or patient, in the way that Dr. Wolfman did for so many.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Hermina, Family:
The love of knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to enhance the
lives of others is a gift given to the truly blessed. The gift once passed on
keeps it alive. In so doing, Dr. Neil Wolfman's existence was worthy of all its
extraordinary blessings. May his name forever be remembered in the archive of life for those reasons.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Kyrie, BC grad:
I would absolutely not be where I am today without the support and guidance of Professor Wolfman... What I did not expect was that my 120-person lecture on General Chemistry would be the class where I felt most cared about as a person and a student. When he started calling students by name, I figured it was just the kids who stayed after class to talk to him, but then the first time I raised my hand, he called me by name. It would have been easy for him to lecture to a nameless crowd -- most other science professors did. He chose to make us all feel individually valued when he didn't have to. I am now a first year medical student... Not only did he write me a letter of recommendation for medical school, but he was one of the first people to tell me that I had a future in this field. I will hold deep gratitude for him in my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you, Professor Wolfman, for everything you were and for everything you taught me and empowered me to be.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Hannah, BC grad:
Professor Wolfman was my freshman chemistry professor in the fall of 2013... Professor Wolfman supported me, encouraged me, and follow-up with me as I found my true calling (public health policy). He introduced me to older students, suggested classes for me, and never let me give up on myself. He wrote me the letter of rec that I credit as my admission ticket to Columbia University’s Master in Public Health program and coached me through the graduate admissions process. We met up for coffee two or three times a semester by my senior year to talk about BC, but also life and dogs :) I credit his mentorship and genuine love for teaching with finding my career path and finding myself. Not only was he a professor, but a guiding and grounding light throughout my time at BC. I will always remember Professor Wolfman in a fedora walking from Merkert to Devlin with 4 or 5 students around him. I smile thinking about this packed “office hours” and his excitement around demonstrating chemistry experiments to the class. I may not remember the chemical reactions we studied, but I will always remember his reaction to my pulling out my cellphone one time in class and how he poked fun at me for it until I graduated... I truly cannot imagine Boston College without him, but I know the university is exponentially better because he taught there.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Timothy, BC grad:
Dr Wolfman taught me how to be a college student and lifelong learner. How to be a person with high morals and values. How to work hard and succeed.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Monica, BC grad:
I sat in Dr. Wolfman's classroom as a scared freshman, uncertain of whether I had what it took to do pre-med and survive in BC. Dr. Wolfman played a huge part as to why I stuck to my guns, stayed in BC and pushed harder than ever before. Who he was, his caring nature, patience and even his morning playlist, are some of my most treasured memories from my time in undergrad. He even met with my parents on 05/13/2007 (Mother's Day) for breakfast because I was dying for them to meet the famous Dr. Wolfman! In the end, words will fail me in communicating how much I esteemed Dr. Wolfman... Dr. Wolfman will forever be in my heart, never to be forgotten.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Jim, neighbor:
Neil was one of the kindest, caring people I have known. He loved and supported my family in hard times. I admired his passion for teaching science. It was an honor to work with him on the D-S Science Fair that he initiated. He loved helping people focus with guidance to find careers. His passing is not only a great loss to Boston College students but to all the people he helped. He had a passion for horticulture. I loved having Neil and Deb over to critique my garden. Condolences to Deborah, Willie, Hannah and Celia.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Chris, BC grad
I had the great privilege of being a teaching assistant for Dr. Wolfman my first year of graduate school at BC in 2007-2008. Over the following years I taught for 5 other professors and honest to goodness have to say that Dr. Wolfman cared more about his students than any of them. The passion he brought to the classroom for his "side job" was truly incredible. He mentored me on how to be a mentor! I am grateful for everything that he taught me on personal interactions, work ethic, and of course how to lecture to a big audience. He left a wonderful legacy, not only in his own scientific work, but in the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of students that learned from him.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Sacha, BC graduate:
Like many others, Professor Wolfman was a father figure for me at BC. I truly loved and admired him. I would not be where I am today without his guidance, presence, and kindness. I would often pray for Neil throughout this entire process. I'd ask God to grace him with the gift of health. Even though this did not occur, I hope your family can find peace in knowing that a soul as light-filled as his is finally at rest with whatever greater powers govern our universe.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Ethan, BC graduate:
[Professor Wolfman] was a wonderful man. There is not one person who I personally know with a bigger or better legacy. For me, Dr. Wolfman was a professor and a mentor, but above all a father-like figure who was a true friend. I will miss that friendship dearly. Professor Wolfman cared so much about all of the several thousand other students that he taught over 15 years, and always wanted what was best for each of them (which, in some cases, was, "You have to drop this class because you're going to get an F otherwise!"). Professor Wolfman cared about so much more than his students just knowing the chemistry; he cared about us as people. He also wanted each of us to know that there were career paths in science beyond practicing medicine or research, and even dedicated half a lecture to discussing many different options. I now work in the life sciences consulting industry, doing strategy work for pharmaceutical companies. I find it invigorating and fulfilling, but might not have thought to pursue it without Professor Wolfman opening my eyes to the alternative career options that exist for science enthusiasts (Professor Wolfman also gladly volunteered to be one of my references for the job I've held since graduating, something I will always be grateful for)... I will forever cherish his mentorship and friendship.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 13, 2020
By Humza, BC graduate:
My times with Dr. Wolfman remain among my favorite memories of Boston College. He was a notoriously difficult chemistry professor, but he cared deeply about each of his students. He wanted nothing but the best for them... At a university like BC, it is easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. A lot of professors are focused on their research and may not have the time or energy or desire to fully invest in their students. This could not be further from the truth for Professor Wolfman. He got to know each of his students at a deep level. He cared for each and every one of us and wanted us to do our best and dream big. I will always be thankful for his guidance, advice, and his compassion... I still can't believe Professor Wolfman is gone. He impacted and motivated so many people, and he will continue to live in our hearts and memories. I will keep his family in my prayers, may he rest in peace.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Rose W on March 17, 2020
My BC years were a very difficult time in my life, and I was not a star student of Dr. Wolfman's by any means. But he knew I had potential and never gave up on me. I know he would have been even more helpful if I had let him know more about my struggle. Looking back, I let him know that he was one of the very few-- one of the only-- at that school who genuinely cared about my well-being, and wanted to see me do well and succeed, despite the academic turmoil of some very personally challenging semesters.

I had so much admiration for Dr. Wolfman-- his brilliance, unwavering dedication to his students, and willingness to go above and beyond in supporting us-- and I communicated this to him often after graduating from BC. I was so excited that he would lead the program for first-generation college premed students, as I felt so strongly that he more than anyone possessed the knowledge of how to help students like me avoid the many mistakes I had made, and he had the compassion and insight needed to make a difference.

It took a post-bacc program, a master's program, and much sacrifice for me to finally compensate for the abysmal premed GPA with which I graduated; yet Dr. Wolfman was supportive of my efforts and my ambition throughout. He knew exactly how difficult it would be for me to get into medical school, and he was realistic because this is important; but he nevertheless continued to support my hopes and my journey.

I never forgot this, and I was incredibly excited to tell him about my acceptance into medical school years later, after abandoning my dream to pursue other avenues, but then finally returning to face my fears and conquer my past.

Dr. Wolfman was like a father to me at a time when I did not have stability in my life, or anyone to rely upon. His time with students was not just to teach chemistry, but to teach invaluable life lessons, which we eagerly absorbed and internalized. Regardless of premed aptitude, Dr. Wolfman gifted his students with his time, his energy, and his kindness.

Dr. Wolfman is the embodiment of the essential qualities any good teacher must have: faith in one's students, humility despite his brilliance and talent in teaching, and dedication, not just to the results and to the students who succeed-- but crucially-- to those who struggle.

As someone who has now had the honor of teaching at a community college of predominantly first-generation college students, Dr. Wolfman will always be my inspiration. And I will never forget his friendship, nor his kindness.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 14, 2020
By Greg, BC grad:
I want to express my deep gratitude for the role Dr. Wolfman played in my education and development as a young college student.

Back in 2006, I entered BC as an eager but nervous premed student. It feels like yesterday that I sat in Dr. Wolfman's general chemistry course, which was the first lecture on my first day of college. He had quite a flare for the dramatic, painting a vivid picture of the hard work set before our class, and imparting the splendor and mystery of chemistry with a few well timed pranks. I still remember the gasps of my classmates as he feigned tripping on the lecture hall stairs, releasing some sort of innocuous smoke onto his audience.

What I remember most about Dr Wolfman was his passion for teaching. He made a large lecture hall feel personable and unintimidating. His love for the science was palpable. You worked hard in Dr. Wolfman's classes, but his vigor for teaching was inspirational. He would always make time for the students that had a question or were struggling with a concept. His review sessions prior to exams would extend late into the evenings, and it clearly brought him great joy to witness his students progress in their understanding of chemistry.

I had the chance to return to BC last weekend since I happened to be back in Boston. I returned to the lecture hall where it all began. A flood of memories returned - especially seeing the faded chemistry compounds scrawled on the chalk boards. I snapped a few photos and then took off. Later that very same day, one of my close friends to this day whom I met in Dr. Wolfman's class, shared the sad news of his passing with me.

I'll always have the utmost respect and appreciation for Dr. Wolfman. His legacy will live on.
Posted by Wolfman Family on February 14, 2020
By Patrick, BC grad:

Professor Wolfman was an incredible teacher, but he went above and beyond that so much more for his students. For me, he was a mentor in my application process for medical school. During one of our discussions, he produced a handwritten list of medical schools that he thought I should apply for. I still have that paper, and have always found it meaningful for an unclear reason, perhaps just a physical memento of a personal bond between a teacher and his pupil.

Another fond memory and a story I still share to this day: A classroom demonstration of a chemical principle. The principle was that at lower temperatures, the volume of a gas would decrease. So he had a balloon and a vat of some very cold liquid (I believe a small amount of liquid nitrogen). When he placed the air-filled balloon in the vat, the balloon of course shrunk. Now for the funny part. He said that the liquid was so cold and dangerous, that he had to take it out of the classroom for special disposal. He started carrying it up the stairs out of the lecture hall but stopped halfway. He said something like "Or I could just..." And with that, he swung the vat to throw the liquid over the heads of all the students. Everyone screamed, but the liquid vaporized in the air harmlessly! I cherish the memory.

I'll always remember the contagious passion he had as a teacher, a passion that inspired hard work. And I'll always remember fondly a great teacher and mentor, the kind of teacher that a student is lucky to get a handful of throughout their learning career.
his Life

Eulogy

By Diane May, sister-more-than-in-law

     I would like to preface my remarks with the disclaimer that I know my words will be inadequate.
     Neil Wolfman was a man of character, intellect, and compassion. He lived a life of action, not one of unrealized intention, adhering to his personal mantra “Try to do the right thing.”  He was a natural born teacher with the curiosity of a scientist and the ability to marvel at the world we live in. He was a loyal and caring friend, a concerned and loving uncle, and above all a loving son, father, and husband.
     I’ve heard Neil use the phrases 'units of accomplishment’ and ‘spheres of influence.’ How very appropriate that a professor of chemistry would think in those terms. His units of accomplishment in both his professional and personal life were many and his spheres of influence will continue to expand through the people whose lives he has touched.  His was a full life in which he balanced work and family, ever mindful of what was really important.
     The only child of holocaust survivors, he grew up with a sense that in some way, after all his parents had been through, he was their hope for a better new world. They did not pressure him to succeed, but succeed he did. Neil said that when he was a kid, one day he dissolved M&M candies in soda water and the water changed colors. He was hooked; he wanted to dissolve candy in fizzy water for the rest of his life.  A chemist was born.
     Y’all know how his life unfolded, Bronx High School of Science, chemistry major at NYU, then on to Cornell where as a TA he discovered his talent for teaching. He completed his PhD in biophysical chemistry the same year Deborah Jane May from Nashville, Tennessee was finishing up her horticultural degree.
     We’re glad Deborah has a thing for chocolate or she wouldn’t have stopped to unwrap a candy bar on the steps of the student union when Neil just happened to be walking by. They said hello and the small exchange ended in going to a movie and then, even though they were both leaving Ithaca, through a series of serendipitous coincidences, they continued to date. Deborah turned out to be the love of his life and their marriage was a partnership of 38 years. When Neil was ill and Deborah stayed right by his side, it upset Neil that he would not be at Deborah’s side, when she was old and frail. How like Neil.
     To say Neil loved his family is an understatement. He was a devoted family man from the start. I guess you could call Celia, Hannah, and Willie units of success. I know he was a dedicated father and so proud. He delighted in his children’s successes, welcomed James and John into the family with open arms, (I’m sure after passing a Neil no-topic-off-limits interview), and he was delighted to get to know Katie. He was over the moon at being a grandfather to Logan and Sarah.
     As we used to say, he was a hands on dad; and, when my family with four kids would invade Dover every winter break for our annual two-week visit, he was a flat out activities director. Neil loved the May-hem (sorry bad pun). I remember one snowy December day coming downstairs to find 7 kids, and maybe Julia from next door, sprawled around the den watching the Magic Flute, with Uncle Neil pausing and narrating occasionally to keep the younger ones engaged. He reveled in coming up with fun outings, whether dim sum in China town, the best hill in Dover for sledding, or Blue Man Group. He shared what mattered to him including taking us to the Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall.
     Professionally, Neil’s first career was in the drug development industry, primarily researching autoimmune diseases and muscle regeneration, focusing on drug specific treatment. More units of success. Frankly, I would not be able to explain them to you- but I can say that at Pfizer, along with being a dedicated researcher, he was a valuable mentor and friend to his colleagues. People mattered to Neil.
     After an overlap, Neil left the world of pharmaceuticals for academia. Wow, at Boston College his units of accomplishment and his spheres of influence exploded. Teaching freshman chemistry at BC was a dream job for Neil, in and out of the lecture hall. He felt his job was “to enable the success of as many kids a possible, however they defined success." He was passionate about teaching chemistry and influenced many students to realize their potential by encouraging them to look beyond pre-med aspirations. He and Deborah hosted students for an annual semester dinner at their home, among other strategies for Neil to connect with his students. He helped students with their course selection, prepare for job interviews, and fill out grad school applications. He cared about his students and considered being an educator one of society’s most laudible carreers.
     In 2015 Dr. Wolfman earned the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award. This is a big, big deal because winners are selected based on the cumulative nominations from students over multiple years. As a teacher Neil changed and influenced lives and his students recognized that. This fall, during one of his hospital stays, a previous student visited Neil, a young doctor who now performs facial reconstruction on children. The doctor told me that as a freshman chemistry student it was Dr. Wolfman who convinced him that that he could be pre-med, and it was Dr. Wolfman who wrote his recommendation for med school, and it was Dr. Wolfman whom he invited to his white coat ceremony.
     Neil was secure in his legacy. He knew that he had been a valuable mentor, and he had ample proof that his service to young chemistry students had born fruit. He knew how much he was valued. He was confident that his hopes for his children were being realized and that they would carry on his legacy. As I said, he was a man to whom individuals mattered. Relationships and connection were important. We, his friends and family, had time to tell him how much he was loved and he had time to tell us. Of that I am grateful.
Recent stories

On Behalf of Thousands of Students (Ethan's speech at memorial service)

Shared by Wolfman Family on March 24, 2020
I stand here today, speaking on behalf of literally thousands of students, who were so fortunate to take a seat in Dr. Wolfman’s general chemistry course. They were so fortunate, because what they got was more than a professor. What they learned was more than knowledge of chemistry. They got a mentor, a friend, an advocate, someone who would go out of his way to champion them. They learned life lessons, and received career advice, supportive words, and an occasional reality check when needed.
So Dr Wolfman was so much more than a professor. But before talking about how he went beyond his job description, I do want to talk about how incredible he was at his job itself. As a professor, Dr. Wolfman was a performer. Starting with his famous morning playlist, he brought energy, intensity, and expertise to each lecture. And he taught to a high caliber. You couldn’t just know the chemistry, you had to know how to think. Dr Wolfman taught problem solving through critical thought, which is something that can be applied to every subject and every aspect of life. The rigor and high expectations of his course imbued a work ethic that is necessary for academic and professional success. Fortunately, gen chem is a course taken by predominantly Freshmen, meaning new college students learn the right way and the path to success from the start.
But as I was saying, Dr Wolfman went far beyond his job description. Dr Wolfman would champion his students – he would do anything he could to help them succeed. One example of this was the hundreds of letters of recommendation he wrote for students, many for medical school. And he wouldn’t just write them. He would reflect, and write from the heart, to beautifully articulate the merits of the student he was writing for. I think examples of this are best heard by testimonials. When coming up with this speech, a small group of us sought input from many former students. One student wrote, “I still remember my interview for medical school at Tufts. I walked in and my interviewer said he had no reason to interview me because he knew everything he needed to know about me from my letters of recommendation. He proceeded to read me bits and pieces of the letter, and I could hear Dr Wolfman’s voice in the words this man was speaking. I knew those words came from my biggest advocate in all of BC.”
Dr Wolfman did so much more than just write letters of recommendation. He was a reference for jobs, including for the job I’ve held since graduating. He also literally got people jobs. I think he placed 5 BC students at one Dermatologist practice. As one student put it, ““No one that knew him needed a Linkedin Page--he was a pathway to success”. 
Dr. Wolfman had a great sense of humor. I remember playing squash with him weekly for two years. A group of us would play: Dr. Wolfman, JP, Sacha, and myself. One time Willie joined us! Although the three young college students had quite the age advantage, he was an even match, and would beat us, as he put it, “with wisdom and experience”. He was a great player. But even better than his squash skills, was the little smirk he’d give when he would make a great shot. “Did you see that?” he would say. And we could only laugh as a man 40 years our senior routinely beat us.
Dr. Wolfman had a way of making everyone feel like family. Every year he and Deborah welcomed students to their house to enjoy delicious vegan food for an evening that would be the highlight of the semester. Dr. Wolfman advocated for his students not just professionally, but in all aspects of life. He often introduced students he thought would get along, forming life long friendships in the process. He also cared deeply for the mental health of his students; walking them to BC counseling services if they needed the comforting presence of someone they trusted.
Beyond the individual, Dr. Wolfman championed the Gateway program for first generation college students, teaching the course and committing additional time in the summer to better the program.
In life, you are only gifted a small group of people who will move mountains for you. Your parents, maybe close family, possibly a small handful of friends. Dr Wolfman moved mountains for all of his students. As one student wrote, “I would not have gotten to this point were it not for a select group of people along my journey. To put it bluntly, those people are Dr Wolfman and my mother. My two greatest supporters.”
Dr. Wolfman was as good a person as any of us will ever know. And his former students have had their paths forged by a great man, and know that we should honor him by doing good, by caring for one another, and by helping those in need. We know going forward that any act of good we create will be in some small form a tribute to the love Dr. Wolfman gave us. I can’t imagine a more beautiful, meaningful legacy.

Lifelong Friendship (Linda's speech read at memorial service)

Shared by Wolfman Family on March 24, 2020
First semester freshman year at Cornell, 46 years ago, I heard from my friends about this “amazing” chemistry TA they all had.   Word was he made the material easy to understand and he was fun. I hoped I would get him second semester.   Of course, the name of this TA was Neil Wolfman, and it was just the beginning of his life-long love for and affinity for imparting knowledge to others.  I never ended up having Neil as a TA, but because so many of my friends were “hanging” with him, I met him and quite quickly we became friends --- for life. Eventually our spouses became friends and our kids got to know each other.  The same reason that everyone liked to hang with Neil in college and beyond, was the reason he was a great friend. He was an active listener, he asked probing questions, and he was genuinely interested in YOU. Neil had a great memory and a wonderful sense of humor.  As I was writing this I wondered, where exactly did we meet…. who introduced us…and when exactly did that happen…Neil would have immediately known the answers.  And we would have LOL (and we did laugh out loud a lot) about some memory from that time.  I miss my friend.

A Great Dad (Celia Wolfman at Memorial Service)

Shared by Wolfman Family on March 24, 2020
My name is Celia and I’m the oldest Wolfman child. I realize I have a unique perspective in this room today as I am one of only three that can speak of what it was like growing up and having Neil as a dad. And as you can imagine, it was a lot of fun having him as our dad.
 He was a very involved father from the moment we were born. When our mother would work on the weekend, Neil was in charge of all three of us-which I’m sure wasn’t the easiest when you had three kids under the age of 5. But he made sure to do activities that got us out of the house. For example, we would get on the commuter train in Needham and ride it into town to get off, get ice cream in Copley and ride the train home. A 2 plus hour activity for ice cream -but when you’re a child what’s better than public transportation and dessert? And don’t think that once we were old enough to take care of ourselves, he stopped being involved. He helped proofread resumes for jobs, go on college tours, and coach us on how to speak to managers when applying for that first job.
Our dad was always a teacher, even at home. I remember him teaching me how to solve basic calculus problems. My sister, who has forever been more inquisitive and science minded than the rest of us, would often ask dad how things worked. Even at a young age, our dad explained to her how we see colors. He didn’t dumb down the material but rather tried to explain things in a way that would be accessible to our young minds.  
And while he did his fair share of looking over our homework, testing us on our spelling or other academic tasks, he was always the first to jump in and play with us. Our house used to be the epicenter for our neighborhood. The neighborhood kids would come over and dad would orchestrate large games of “Scully” or “3 Steps to Germany” or playing on the trampoline. One winter he set up a volleyball net in the living room and we would play with a soft beach ball in the house. How cool he was! And he was pretty “hip” as he would say. He was always current on his celebrity (and family/friends) gossip, sports and music. Nowadays, we would go to him for music advise!
My dad also thought it was very important to expose us to new things. Both him and my mother loved going to art museums. Our vacations were full of museum hopping. He also loved the theater and to his credit we grew up going to the best shows whether it was in town at the Wang Center or in NYC. He also loved to travel which was hampered by the fact that he despised flying. So every summer we would go on a family vacation that was within a 10 hour driving radius from Dover. We would travel to new cities, hit up all the museums and then dine in the local vegetarian spot. And if the city had a baseball team, he would take us. He loved baseball. And although he grew up a few blocks away from the Yankees Stadium, he was a Mets fan growing up and later a Red Sox fan and most recently a Cubs fan. 
Our father has taught us a lot. He was always a proponent of getting involved. He said that he couldn’t worry about the big political issues as they were too big and far away for him to control but he would focus on what he could affect. He could influence us (his family), his community (Dover or Pfizer) and his students (B.C.). Given the turnout today as well as the inundation of emails, letters and support over the past year, he succeeded on making a difference. 
Another lesson he preached to us was for us to branch out, explore places, and try new things. We were all discouraged from staying in Boston for college. He always said that going to Cornell and away from the city he grew up in exposed him to a new world (for example, he learned Jews live in Tennessee). 
If you ever spent more than 5 minutes talking to my dad, you would know he was a people person. He knew how to engage with people. He would often tell us that the art of conversation was dead and that people don’t listen to one another; they just listen for when they can talk. But my dad wasn’t like that. He loved asking questions and getting to know people. There is a chair in our family room that was known as the “hot seat”.
After college, when our friends would come over to visit, my dad would have them sit in this chair and ask them tons of questions about what they are doing, how they like their job, life, boyfriend, etc and how their families/parents/dogs are doing. He really cared about the people who were in his life and by extension, the people that were in our lives. 
His life lessons will forever be engrained with us and part of our core. It is my hope that we will teach our children who will then share with their children, not only what a great man he was but also the values that defined him.