Jack Wolf, Santa Rosa public relations executive, dies at 61

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There is one word that colleagues and close friends consistently use to describe Jack Wolf when reflecting on his life: mentor.

A leading force behind marketing and social media campaigns for cities, businesses and large events in Sonoma County, Wolf’s legacy as an expert in the communications field will be lasting, said Brad Calkins, executive director of Visit Santa Rosa.

“He was a great source of educating me on the industry and taught me what works and doesn’t,” said Calkins, who worked with Wolf on multiple projects. “He would teach me about the importance of seemingly innocuous details and would help me understand his reasons for doing things a certain way.”

Wolf, 61, died on Christmas Eve in his Santa Rosa home after a battle with liver cancer.

His death resounded through the North Bay business community where he had worked in marketing since 1990, when he founded his Santa Rosa-based firm Wolf Communications.

“It was a rare experience to get to work with him,” said Kerry Rego, a Sonoma County media consultant. “I can only imagine, if he impacted me in the short time we spent together, how many others who came into contact with him in this industry must feel right now to lose such a mentor.”

Born in Santa Rosa in 1957, Wolf graduated from Montgomery High School and later from Sacramento State University. Before starting his communications company in Santa Rosa, he worked in various media jobs, producing television news at network affiliates in Sacramento and New Orleans and later becoming director of public relations for Kirkwood Ski Resort outside of South Lake Tahoe.

At Wolf Communications, he was the behind-the-scenes manager of marketing campaigns and digital strategies for cities and hospitality agencies throughout the North Bay, said Neil Myers, a childhood friend and president of San Francisco- based Connect Marketing.

“What made him so good at what he did was that at his core he was a storyteller, he was creative, and he was able to easily form deep relationships,” Myers said.

Often, his contract work led to lifelong partnerships and mentorships.

Tyffani Sedgwick, senior account executive at Holly Hansen Public Relations, collaborated with Wolf beginning in 2004.

“He hired me to work with him mostly on the Sonoma County Tourism Program account, but our workload grew quickly and we worked together on some great projects with some great people including the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, the city of Santa Rosa and the first couple of Amgen Tours,” Sedgwick said. “He was an incredible mentor for me, and not just in the best practices of PR, but in having patience with people, being open-minded and fair.”

Wolf was previously married and was an avid golfer and skier who enjoyed spending his free time with close friends, Myers said.

Wolf was a longtime member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the Bay Area Travel Writers and the Outdoor Writers Association of California.

He came across as soft-spoken to most, but Myers said he was boisterous in private and an occasional prankster.

“He always saw the light side of things and easily connected with everyone,” Myers said.

Wolf is survived by his brother, Bob Wolf of Santa Rosa, and sister, Lindsey Howe of Lemoore. A public celebration of his life is planned for this spring.

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