East Hampton, N.Y. — Ralph Wolfe, 82, long-time CE executive with General Electric and Panasonic, died on Nov. 27.
Wolfe began his career in consumer electronics with General Electric, which he joined in 1949 after graduating from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and business administration. He spent 20 years with GE and eventually became national accounts manager for the electronics sales operation.
Wolfe came to Panasonic in 1969, where he eventually became sales and marketing senior VP, was a member of the Panasonic Management Committee beginning in 1978 and finally its chairman in 1987.
A member of the board of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America from 1986 to 1991, he also had responsibility for Panasonic’s external affairs division. Wolfe was a former member of the predecessor of the board of the Electronic Industries Association’s consumer electronics group, the precursor of the Consumer Electronics Association.
Wolfe was a member of the Electronics Industries Foundation, a group devoted to providing job training to the handicapped, and was instrumental in the creation and development of Panasonic Kid Witness News, a program that offers video as an incentive for urban elementary school children to remain in class, according to Panasonic.
Prior to his retirement in 1993 he was the senior American in the Japanese company, according to an obituary published today.
Born in Holyoke, Mass., he was a highly decorated World War II Navy veteran; he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery and a Purple Heart while serving with a B-24 Squadron in the South Pacific.
Wolfe was a 10-year member of the East End Hospice board of directors, also serving as a patient volunteer. He was a former president of the board of trustees of the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton. Immediately following his retirement from Panasonic, he volunteered as the Executive Director of The Retreat, the East Hampton shelter for victims of domestic violence.
He is survived by his wife Sherry, his sister, two daughters, a son and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. 11978. — Steve Smith