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Leaving his mark

Retired Ironton attorney reflects on long career

Longtime Ironton attorney John Wolfe, who was instrumental in getting the Ironton City School’s Greyhound Tiger buses, retired at the end of December after serving the community for many years through law.

Though law was Wolfe’s life and passion, he originally wanted to go in a different direction.

Wolfe attended Ohio University and majored in accounting for two years, but said he had trouble with one of his professors.

“I went to my advisor, who was head of the accounting department, and he told me ‘you don’t have the personality to be an accountant,’” Wolfe said. “I graduated from OU in 1961 and got my bachelor of science and commerce with a minor in history.”

From Ohio University, Wolfe said he was high on the draft list, joined the Navy and was sent to the Naval Justice School, where he served until 1965.

Wolfe’s first taste of law came working with a local attorney for six months after graduating from the Naval Justice School.

“I was doing stuff that wasn’t interesting to me,” Wolfe said. “Then I met another attorney, Lloyd Moore, who is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met.”

From late in 1969 to 1975, Wolfe worked with Moore at Fourth and Park, where he primarily focused on personal injury and criminal defense.

“In 1975, my dad, who owned a Chevy dealer in town, died and my brother-in-law, who was learning to run the business became hospitalized,” Wolfe said. “I decided to run his Chevy dealer for a while and purchased a trailer across the street where I practiced law. From late 75-1980 I was practicing law on my own.”

Late in 1980, Wolfe started practicing with another Ironton attorney, John Kehoe, on Vernon Street for a few years and then with attorney Richard Bentley at Wolfe and Bentley on Fifth and Center for more than 20 years, when he retired on Dec. 31.

Over Wolfe’s career, he said he has been involved in just about any case you can think of, including about four first-degree murder trials; one as a prosecutor and three as defense. But his favorite aspect of being a lawyer was just being in the courtroom.

“I enjoyed anything that got me in the courtroom,” he said. “I loved trial work. I did anything that could get me in the courtroom that I felt qualified to do.”

Wolfe is an Ironton native and said he really enjoyed working in Ironton and Lawrence County during his career.

“I liked being in this area,” he said. “Ironton and Lawrence County have the most open and friendly people I’ve ever been around.”