John Leroy Woolf, Jr.
September 6, 1917 – July 28, 2020
Born Sept 6th, 1917, along with his unexpected identical twin Leyton, at the Pima Maricopa Indian Medical Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona to John Leroy (Roy) Woolf and Anna Louise Stuart Woolf. Siblings Peggy and brother Robert followed. Jack passed away on July 28, 2020. One of Dad's first memories was riding on the back of a horse drawn wagon with all their family's possessions after his father lost their small farm in 1921. His father would later start another farm/dairy in which the kids provided labor throughout the depression. After graduating from Peoria High School in 1935, he and his twin were dropped off in Los Angeles at a YMCA with $25 each and enrolled in Woodbury Business College. They obtained their three-year business degrees in two years while holding several part-time jobs. Both graduated Magna Cum Laude. Dad's first job after college was with Anderson Clayton Company, a cotton merchandiser, in Los Angeles. With war escalating in Europe, Dad registered for the draft in early spring 1941. He joined the army and rose to the rank of captain. As a member of the 204th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, he landed on Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day Normandy Invasion of Europe. He received 7 battle stars which include: The Battles of England, Normandy, Northern France, Holland, the Bulge, the Rhine and Central Germany. He was discharged as a Major in December 1945. After coming home from Europe, he returned to Anderson Clayton in Los Angeles. In 1947 he was instructed to go to Mendota, California to meet with Russell Giffen, who had recently sold his large west-side farming operation to Anderson Clayton. After watching Jack in operation, Russell realized Dad had acquired planning and execution skills in the army, moving large amounts of personnel, equipment and materials that were well suited for developing a new large-scale farming enterprise. Their 30+ year relationship resulted in one of California's largest and most successful farming operations: Giffen, Inc. In 1949 a young woman from Springfield, Missouri had a summer job while staying with her cousins in Coalinga on her way to enroll at UC Berkeley. One of Bernice McKiney's duties was to go to the Giffen headquarters to pick up a check. Dad liked what he saw in Bernice and the two were married months later. In 1974 Giffen retired from the farming business and asked Dad to sell all the assets. At age 57, he and Bernice decided to "put all their chips on the table" and buy some of the Giffen land to start their own operation, Woolf Farming Company. Jack proved to be a successful, lifelong entrepreneur. He had all the attributes for this role: passion, integrity, loyalty, vision, communication skills and decisiveness. Undoubtedly, the military trained him well, but many of these characteristics were innate. They were simply a part of who he was. It was in his DNA. A perpetual optimist, he was developing pistachios, a crop that takes approximately 7 years to come into production, in his 90s. He drove to the ranch weekly until his 100th birthday. He lived his life with a sense of purpose. It is hard to imagine him waking in the morning and wondering what to do. Jack always placed the good of the whole, his partners and fellow growers above his own self-interest. His idea of success was to "grow the pie so everyone's piece is bigger...not just yours". Jack was involved with several boards and organizations. These include: The National Cotton Council, Huron Ginning, Kingsburg Cotton Oil, The University of Santa Clara Board of Regents, the Fresno Historical Society, Valley Public Television, and The California Tomato Growers Association to name a few. He was a proud member of the 16 Club dinner club and the VIP lunch group. Education and healthcare were issues close to his heart. He helped establish a graduate agribusiness program at Santa Clara University and received an honorary doctorate degree from Fresno State. Both institutions offer scholarships in his name. Jack & Bernice have also been long time supporters of St. Agnes Medical Center, Valley Children's Hospital and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Jack leaves behind Bernice, a loving and devoted wife/ "best friend" of over 70 years, his six kids: Anne Franson (Don), Nancy Woolf, John Woolf (Mary Pat), Mike Woolf (Shelly), Stuart Woolf (Lisa), & Chris Woolf (Sarah). In addition, he and Bernice have 24 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Jack strode through life with purposeful steady steps, a man on his way somewhere, always forward. He excelled at being a great son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be remembered as a faithful and loyal friend and businessman to many. It has been a terrific honor to know him as "Dad". Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.whitehurstsullivan.com for the Woolf, family.
John Leroy Woolf, Jr.
Sister Emily Demuth, C.S.C.
August 4, 2020
to all members of the John Woolf Family please know that my prayers are with you at this time as you celebrate the life of your wonderful husband and father, and grandfather.After reading the detailed account of John's life he could say with St. Paul " I have finished the race I am ready to receive my crown" his much deserved crown. Continued prayers in thanksgiving for John's life and prayers for you at this time. Sister Emily
Pat and Carl Abercrombie
August 2, 2020
Carl and I have know n Jack and his family for many years. He was a wonderful man, very kind, talented and always had that little twinkle in his eye. Our children went to St. Therese together and Bernice is a lovely friend also. He certainly succeeded in his life, always friendly and fair. He was blessed with a long life, many, many friends and a beautiful family. He will be greatly missed.
August 2, 2020
My deepest condolences.
Jack will always be in my fondness memories. He was always kind, friendly and gracious to me. He did indeed live a full and remarkable life.
With all my sympathies,