As a boy, Harry K. Wolf once made a trip via horse and buggy to Morro Bay to dig for clams from his family’s ranch in Paso Robles.
He recalls one day, amid church bells ringing, coming home and learning from his parents that World War I had ended.
Wolf, who lives in Morro Bay with his daughter Vicki Ryal and son-in-law David Ryal, turned 107 on Jan. 29.
That kind of milestone calls for two birthday parties.
So, first he gathered with his Estero Radio Club friends for their weekly get-together, and a few days later he celebrated again with his family at home on his actual birthday.
It’s a lot of work trying to stay alive.
Harry Wolf, on turning 107
Wolf doesn’t hear well, so he communicates through writing notes. When asked how it feels to be 107, Wolf simply jots, “It’s a lot of work trying to stay alive.”
He seems to be managing just fine. Wolf still strolls around, with the assistance of a walker. His daily routine includes reading the paper in the morning and watching “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” at night with the help of closed captioning. Wolf regularly plays gin rummy with family members — and often wins.
As a possible explanation for his longevity, his daughter Vicki, who is 71, says, “He has always kept himself busy and always kept a social life.”
A ham radio enthusiast, Wolf fashioned his own radio as a teenager in Paso Robles, long before others had them at home, and has maintained a fascination with radio ever since. At home these days, he cranks up the volume of his ham radio and uses Morse code.
He’s the oldest ham radio operator in the United States, according to his family.
1909 year Harry Wolf was born
Wolf’s story covers a wide range of professional accomplishments and personal hobbies.
Born in 1909, he was a batboy for the Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team, which used to hold spring training in Paso Robles. He also appeared as an extra in films starring Hoot Gibson.
A longtime teacher, Wolf was a navigation instructor for Navy pilots during World War II and played an influential role in the early development of Cal Poly’s engineering department in the 1940s, according to David Ryal. Wolf taught navigation, physics and electrical engineering at Cal Poly for 31 years.
He traveled around the world nine times with his wife, Nathalie, who died in 2005 at the age of 96. They lived in Africa and Hong Kong while he consulted in electronics. He also developed standards for equipment used in the space program.
“He certainly has a lot of stories,” his daughter said.
Before his 100th birthday, Wolf self-published an autobiography called, “The Oak Tree.”
Good genes seem to run in Wolf’s family. His cousin, Ella Adams, lived until 103 before she died in Atascadero in 2010. He has nieces around the age of 90.
Besides hearing, his difficulties these days include processing information, which doesn’t come as quickly as it used to, and feeling tired after venturing out for the day with family.
He has observed that a desire for education in young people’s lives has become more of a focus in society over the years, which pleases the former university instructor. Wolf notes that what hasn’t changed is a teenager’s “desire to own a car.”
As far as personal habits for living a long life, Wolf offers no advice, he says, only opinion.
“In my opinion, if you reduce your food intake, you will live two to four years longer,” Wolf said.
Each day, he drinks two glasses of wine — red wine right after lunch and white wine after dinner. He eats a chocolate chip cookie along with both glasses of wine.
And he’s frugal.
“He likes Carlo Rossi, which is the cheap stuff,” Wolf’s son-in-law said. “He likes to point out that he can drink a bottle of Carlo Rossi for the same price you get a glass of wine in a restaurant.”