The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 14, 2014

Area celebrates lives of Susan, Sarah Wolfe at funeral

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — A common theme resonated during funeral services Friday for two sisters slain last week in East Liberty, Pa.

Susan and Sarah Wolfe were remembered as caring and helpful by colleagues, friends and family members during a service at Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Church and a luncheon at Wild Rose Casino and Resort in Clinton.

Hundreds attended the services for the sisters, who were two of Jack and Pierrette Wolfe's eight children. The six daughters and two sons grew up in Clinton and graduated from schools in Clinton.

Jack came back to the area in 1975 as the county's first public defender and has been a longtime operator of Wolfe Law Office in Clinton.

The sisters were found shot to death in their East Liberty home on Feb. 7. No arrests have been made and police are continuing the investigation.

Father Kenneth Kuntz said the sisters were always there for people who couldn't help themselves.

And that theme carried on through everyone who spoke, including oldest sibling, Iowa Rep. Mary Wolfe.

"Both of my little sisters were incredible," Mary said at the luncheon following the services. "Make sure you know how fabulous your family is and tell them that everyday."

Mary's colleagues in the Iowa Legislature came to Clinton to support the two-term representative. Several were in attendance during the funeral service, including Iowa House Minority Leader Mark Smith.

The family has commented multiple times about the gratitude of support from the community, including from legislators at the Iowa State Capitol.

"Many of my colleagues attended the funeral today and have shown tremendous support toward my family," Mary said.

Legislators from Des Moines weren't the only group to travel for the services. Many of Sarah's colleagues traveled from Pittsburgh to offer support.

The group read a statement, and even displayed a shirt honoring Sarah as a member of their "Wolf Pack."

"(Sarah) was sincere in helping her patients in every way," the statement read. "Her contributions to the community were huge. Sarah changed and saved many lives."

Susan, known as Suzy to family and friends, recently moved to East Liberty to live with Sarah, who served children, adolescents and families at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

Sarah also served as a consultant at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. As a triple-boarded physician, Sarah was a pediatrician, child psychiatrist and an adult psychiatrist.

Dr. Claudia Roth, president and CEO of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and vice president of Behavioral Health for UPMC, also released a statement on Sarah's ability as a doctor.

"She was known as a very compassionate, warm, caring and bright physician who was praised by patients, families, staff and colleagues," Roth said.

For Suzy, her time in East Liberty was spent as a teaching assistant at Hillel Academy in Pittsburgh. During Friday's services, she was remembered for her time at the YWCA, one of two organizations the Wolfes are asking for memorials to be donated. The other organization is for the L'Arche, a place where Suzy also worked.

YWCA Executive Director Shannon Sander-Welzien said the group is humbled by the Wolfe family's decision to make them one of the organizations to receive memorials.

She also reminisced about Suzy's talent at her position in the YWCA children's center.

"She was a terrific person to be around," Sander-Welzien said. "She just lit up when working with children."

The Wolfe family's impact doesn't stop with Suzy's employment at the YWCA. Mary has been outspoken about the benefits of the YWCA's Crisis Center.

"Mary has been a champion for victim's rights," Sander-Welzien said. "She's had terrific support for the YWCA. The (Wolfe) families are truly a terrific group of people."