Jeremiah "Jerry" Wolfe

Born: Sun., Sep. 28, 1924
Died: Mon., Mar. 12, 2018


5:30 PM to 12:00 AM, Fri., Mar. 16, 2018
Location: Cherokee United Methodist Church

Funeral Service

1:00 PM Sat., Mar. 17, 2018
Location: Cultural Arts Center

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Music by The Piano Brothers

Dr. Jeremiah “Jerry” Wolfe, 93, of Cherokee passed away on Monday, March 12, 2018 at Mission Hospital in Asheville with his loving family at his side.

Born on September 28, 1924 to the late Owen Wolfe and Lucy Ann Davis Wolfe in the Big Cove Community.  He later moved and lived most of his life in the Yellowhill community of Cherokee.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years Juanita (Bradley) Wolfe; three sisters, Annie Tsosi, Rose Curley, and Mary Sneed; three sons, Michael Owen Wolfe, Jeremiah Wolfe, Jr., and Dennis Ray Wolfe.  

Surviving are three daughters, Vangie Stephens (Tommy), Gerri Grady (Sean), and Robin Wolfe all of Cherokee; two sons, Joe Wolfe and Tony Wolfe; step-daughter, Jackie Moody; special friend, Nancy Pafford of Lakeland, Georgia; several grandchildren and great grandchildren also survive as well as relatives across the country.  

Jerry grew up in Sherrill Cove on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Western North Carolina.  The family home sat in the middle of what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Jerry started his life on Sherrill Cove as an only child although he had three sisters.  He was the baby and his sisters were usually off at boarding school away from Cherokee.  

As he grew into a man Jerry joined the United States Navy on July 21, 1943.  He proudly served aboard the Queen Mary and worked on a aviation repair vessel and a destroyer escort.  On June 6, 1944 he participated in the invasion of Normandy.  As the only Native American in his division he gained the respect of the other men as he was able to adapt very well to strenuous work because of his upbringing in the harsh Great Smoky Mountains.  Prior to his discharge from the Navy on February 1, 1950 he married Juanita Bradley on January 2, 1949.  Within a few years he started a family that grew to five boys and three girls.

Jerry was a mason by trade and was one of the last Cherokee stonecutters.  He built fireplaces, walls, and monuments.  Works of art.  Jerry retired from the federal service in 1985 and has been working at the Museum of the Cherokee Indians since 1987 as a greeter.

He had traveled the southeast and is often asked to represent the tribal perspective on plants and animals of the Great Smoky Mountains.  He has assisted in translating documents into Cherokee as he reads and writes using the Cherokee Syllabary.  He spent time in local schools teaching the Cherokee Language and telling stories of the Cherokee people to the children.   At home, Jerry dug ginseng, hunted for wishee mushrooms, and kept track of the Russian boars, bears, elk and wild turkey.  He gathered ramps and berries when he had time.  

In the spring of 2013 Jerry was named Beloved Man of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians the first man to receive this honor in over 200 years.  In the same year he was honored for his military service.  In 2002 he was awarded the Cherokee Heritage Award.  In 2008 he received an award from the North Carolina State Legislator for his contributions to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee as a story teller and a stick ball caller.  In October 2010 he was among a group of veterans to visit Washington D.C. and the World War II memorial.  In 2014 he was awarded the patriot award and in the spring of 2017 was bestowed with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Roy Cooper and also received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Western Carolina University. The list goes on of his accomplishments and these are only a few.  

Dr. Wolfe represented the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians on numerous occasions by offering prayers and smoke as he believed the Beloved Man should help the community and the tribe whenever possible.  He was passionate in his hope that the Cherokee children learn the Cherokee Language and the traditions and customs of the tribe.  His loss is a great blow to the Cherokee people, and the people of Western North Carolina and the nation as a whole.  He cannot be replaced and he will be missed.    

Visitation will be held on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 5:30 pm until 12 midnight at the Cherokee United Methodist Church.  Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 1 pm at the Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at the Cherokee Central School.  Rev. Ralph Eanes, Jr., Mr. Bo Taylor, and Mr. Derek Robinson will officiate.  Burial will follow at the Yellowhill Veterans Cemetery.  Pallbearers will be Christopher Reed, Keenan Grady, Faolan Grady, Richard Wolfe, Brandon Stephens, Jake Stephens, and Dennis Tice.

Family welcomes flowers but in lieu of flowers donations can be made to the New Kituwah Academy at 60 Water Dam Road, Cherokee, NC  28719 or to the Jerry Wolfe scholarship fund established with First Citizens Bank in Cherokee, NC.

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Condolence Booklet

Kim Sneed Lambert
   Posted Wed March 14, 2018
We were so sorry to hear about Jerry's passing. Please accept our sincere condolences from the staff and clients of VOC. We are wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead, and loving memories to forever hold in your heart. Kim Lambert, Executive Director VOC

Gary Gunter
   Posted Wed March 14, 2018
I am so sorry to hear of Brother Jerry's passing. I worked with Jerry at the Holiday Inn in Cherokee and when he and Mr. Casey laid the block for Gary Boyer's big home in Sylva. Jerry was the most interesting man I ever worked with. He was so knowledgeable on the Cherokee language. I will never forget what he said about Judaculla rock. He said when you broke the word down it meant a man peeing on a flat Rock. He will be greatly missed by everyone and my heart goes out to all his family. Gary Gunter and family

Clarence Hubbell
   Posted Thu March 15, 2018
A man of great stature and character has left the mountains of his home. What a great example he has been to me and the Cherokee Nation. Thanks for the fond memories as you taught me about the history of your people. Be with God always.

Andrea Crisp
   Posted Thu March 15, 2018
What a loss in the passing of this walking history book of a man. Prayers for you all.

Woodrow Blaine Sneed
   Posted Thu March 15, 2018
Goodbye, Uncle Jerry. You lived a great life and will be missed by many people whose lives were better because you were there. Thanks for the many favors.
Love, Woody

Ruby M Banerjee
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018
In August 2005 I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Jerry Wolfe, with the then Indian Ambassador to the United States, HE Ronen Sen and his wife Kalpana Sen. Dr. Wolfe spent about half an hour with us, talking about the history of the Cherokee people. He was an excellent raconteur and I remember him as a humble, self-effacing soul who was deeply involved in preserving Cherokee history, values and culture.
My deepest sympathies to Dr. Wolfe's family.


Beverly Elliott
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Cherokee Beloved Man Jerry Wolfe. Over the past few years, I, like so many others, have been blessed with the friendship of such a great man. Jerry was a wonderful emissary for the Cherokee people, and helped bring a deeper understanding to all of the rich heritage, language and history of the Cherokee.
My sincere sympathy and prayers to Jerry's daughters and family.

Marquietta Holcombe
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018


Our deepest sympathy to Tony and the family. From FOOD LION 1587

Mark DeHart
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018
So sorry to hear about the passing of this Legend of a man.God Bless his legacy that he has left for the Cherokee People and all who knew him and May God bless his family and friends during this time.

Edith Callahan
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018
Vangie and family my prayers and thoughts are with you! What an inspiration to our community! Edith Callahan, Smoky Mountain High School

Ann Miller Woodford
   Posted Fri March 16, 2018
To Dr. Wolfe's family: I did not know Dr. Wolfe personally, but met him at the Museum several times. He always greeted me with a smile and was so glad to share Cherokee culture and history information with me. The name "Beloved Man of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians" fit him perfectly. Know that he was also beloved by many outside of the EBCI also. Blessings to all of you, his family and friends.

Elizabeth Stillwell
   Posted Mon March 19, 2018
My sympathy to all of the family. Such a great man will be missed by everyone who knew him. What an impressive list of accomplishments and honors. May God give you the strength to carry on in the days ahead. You are in my prayers. Love and Prayers, Elizabeth Stillwell

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