ForeverMissed
Tributes
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.
This tribute was added 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.

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