Joseph H. Wolfe taught Agency, Criminal Law and Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Domestic Relations, and Wills and Administration during the 1949-1950 academic year at Washington and Lee University. His style of teaching was Socratic, developing his points using questions and answers rather than by lecturing. His sense of humor came through in the way in which he presented hypothetical problems in class. Though he loved to teach and was asked to stay on at W&L, in 1950 Wolfe left teaching for good to enter the business world.
Joseph Harold Wolfe was born in Jonesville, North Carolina on March 6, 1915. He was a cousin of the famous novelist Thomas Wolfe. Only after attending Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta and being admitted to the Georgia bar, did he enter the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia (now Georgia State University) for undergraduate work. After receiving his B.S. degree in 1943, he entered the U.S. Navy, serving until 1946. He married Mary Betty Smith in Atlanta in 1944. They had two children.
Not satisfied with his earlier law training, Wolfe attended Emory University School of Law after World War II, receiving his J.D. degree in 1948. He taught two-thirds of a full load in the School of Business Administration of the University of Georgia while he was earning this degree.
Wolfe next entered an LL.M. program at the University of Michigan Law School, specializing in the study of First Amendment problems relating to church and state. At Michigan, too, Wolfe taught business law in the School of Business Administration. So popular was he as a teacher that he attracted 500 students in a class that usually enrolled 100.
Immediately after earning his LL.M. from Michigan in 1949 Wolfe began teaching at W&L. In 1950, he became executive director of the North Carolina Bankers Association. In 1953 he moved to New York City where he was the trust secretary of the American Bankers Association until 1960. He then moved to Boston where he became vice-president and trust officer of the New England Merchants National Bank. He died of a heart attack in Bostonís North Station on his way to work on January 24, 1963.