Gustave J. “Gus” Wolff

Gustave J. “Gus” Wolff, age 89, of Dubuque, Iowa, died at home on February 2, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.  To honor Gus’ life, a Zoom memorial service will be held for his family and friends on Saturday, February 13, 2021.  Please feel free to contact the family for more details.  The Tri-State Cremation Center is humbly serving Gus’ family.


Gus was born on September 6, 1931, in Burton, Kansas, son of John and Cora (Hunt) Wolff.  His parents moved to Dubuque before he was of school-age.  He graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1949.  He met his wife Elenore, in high school, and they later married on August 22, 1953, and in subsequent years raised 2 sons and 2 daughters.  He graduated from the University of Dubuque in June 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree, and began his career as a science teacher later that year in New London, Iowa, then in 1958 moved back to Dubuque to continue his career first with the Science Department at Dubuque Senior High School, and later at Jefferson Junior High School.  He retired from teaching in 1992, but continued with and expanded his house painting business for many more years.  He also enjoyed traveling even more extensively with Elly, around the world, in fact, as he loved learning about the world and its peoples and cultures.


Besides his teaching career, Gus also enjoyed many other part-time jobs and activities.  For instance, he worked many summers as a lifeguard and manager at the former Municipal Pool (now Sutton pool), and for many winters worked with the outdoor ice rinks in Dubuque.  These were perfect jobs for him, as he was a skilled swimmer, high-board diver, and was a talented skater. He also volunteered as a counselor for the Summer Science Camp program, and with the Dubuque County Historical Society, and was a Board Member of the Dubuque Teachers’ Credit Union for many years.  Some of his other favorite activities were tending his rose garden, playing handball, and playing cards, cribbage, board games, and dominoes with his family. 


Besides being a teacher, he viewed himself as a student of life and was always desirous of learning new things.  Thus, in 2013, he began a serious study of the Bible, which led to his decision to dedicate his life to the greatest Teacher of all, Jehovah God, and was baptized in 2014 as a disciple of Christ Jesus, beginning his ministry with the South Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dubuque.


Although in the end, Gus’ physical heart gave out on him, his figurative heart was as strong as ever, for he loved his family, friends, students, and people in general with all of his heart.  He showed by example that love was always more important than material things.  For him, it was always a loving team effort with Elly in raising their 4 children.  And he gave his children the greatest gift a father could give them, that of loving their mother.  Gus was truly blessed with a full and abundant 89 years, spending it with those who loved him.  


Those left behind to cherish the memory of Gus include,


his loving wife of 67 years,

Elenore (Montgomery) Wolff, Dubuque, Iowa;


his 4 children that he adored,

Keith (Cinzia) Wolff, Wallkill, New York,

Rebecca (Mark) Steffen, Dubuque, Iowa,

Kathy Wolff, Bettendorf, Iowa,

and Gregory Wolff, Dubuque, Iowa;


his sister,

Elizabeth (Paul) Fitzsimmons, Dubuque, Iowa;


his brother-in-law,

Bruce (Gina) Montgomery, Glen Allen, Virginia;


his sister-in-law,

Constance Montgomery, Evansville, Indiana;


along with nieces, nephews, and numerous extended family members


Gus was preceded in death by his parents, parents-in-law Keith and Evelyn (Mehl) Montgomery, and a brother-in-law, Kenneth Montgomery.


Gus’ family would like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who gave Gus kind and compassionate care during these difficult last few months.


Online condolences may be shared with Gus’ family at

To honor Gus’ life, a Zoom memorial service will be held for his family and friends on Saturday, February 13, 2021.  Please feel free to contact the family for more details.

22 comments on “Gustave J. “Gus” Wolff
  1. Ruthie Muellich Caitham says:

    My sincere condolences to the family with the passing of Gus. He was a man who inspired his students and those who were a part of his life. Sending prayers of comfort and peace.

  2. Markes E. Johnson says:

    I was saddened by the news of the passing of “Gus” Wolff. I have fond memories of Mr. Wolff as my high school chemistry teacher at Dubuque Senior High. As part of our instruction, we students were asked to perform a bit of original research and I was lucky enough to find a small project that related to my hobby as a fossil collector. I was most grateful that he encouraged and supported this “outside” interest. I am now retired from teaching, myself, as professor emeritus at Williams College in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts — rather far from Dubuque. But Dubuque and all related to Dubuque Senior High remain close to my heart.

  3. Roger Schrunk says:

    A most memorable teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, Class of 1960. RIP

  4. L.R. DuPre says:

    What loving tribute to a very busy person. I enclose my Love to his family and very much look forward to meeting him in person soon in the earthy resurrection.

  5. Patricia (Pat McNamer) Boelk says:

    Mr. Wolff, as we still referred to him even at reunions, was my Chemistry teacher and friend when I was a student at Senior High. My lab partner, Alda, and I almost wiped out the lab with an experiment one day and he would always kid us about it. He was my teacher during a difficult family matter also; and he and Ms. Trenk both took time to make sure I was “ok”. His love of science rubbed off on me and many and he was one of the major reasons I went into Occupational Therapy as a lifelong career. His care and interest as a teacher and friend will never be forgotten and he will be missed by so many.

  6. S. Boge says:

    I was blessed to be a chemistry student of Mr. Wolf’s in 1965. He made chemistry so interesting, and enriched our class’ experience with his twinkling eyes and marvelous sense of humor. Over the years I have thought of Mr. Wolff many times with great fondness. Because I moved far away from Dubuque and visited rarely, I never expected to see this wonderful man again. However, I was surprised to see Mr. Wolff in 1994, when he came to pay his respects at my father’s services. We had a good visit, which I have since treasured. The world has lost an exceptional man, funny, talented, and, most of all, compassionate. I am glad I knew him. My condolences go out to his family.

  7. SUSAN (SUE) VOELS says:

    My deepest sympathy to Gus’s wife Elenore and family. Gus was one of those special people you meet for the first time and you never forget! I was blessed to have met and talked with Gus many times at ACU! Gus you were 1 in a million and I will be forever thankful for that beautiful smile each time we met. RIP Gus! SueV

  8. Joan Pautvein says:

    I am thinking of you and your wonderful family, my deepest sympathy to all of you. Gus was a wonderful man, and I always had a place in my heart for him.

  9. Judith A. Kenniker says:

    I want to leave my Condolences for Mr. Wolff. I was one of his students at Dubuque Senior HS. I thought he was a wonderful teacher. He helped me so much to get through Chemistry which I needed to get into Nursing School. God Bless him and all of his family.

  10. Diane Ballard says:

    Dearest Family,

    What a wonderful obituary and testimony to a well-lived life. All of us that were touched by Gus, remember him as a soft spoken, kind and compassionate man. He was easy to talk to and ready and willing to help anyone at anytime. The love he had for his family was second only to his love for Jehovah. It was a joy to watch him with those he loved.
    My prayers are that the family will be comforted by sweet memories and look to the wonderful time ahead when they will be reunited with their beloved Gus.
    Love to all,

  11. Thomas Carroll says:

    My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Remember the great events. Knowing your family makes me smile I think at Jackson school.
    Smile as his picture.
    Mr Carroll

  12. C Steiner says:

    The kids in my family were friends of Gus and Elenore Wolff‘s children since we were kids and our families have continued to be friends. They have always been a very loving, loyal and supportive family. One of Gus‘s daughters told me recently that “we have our parents to thank for us being the people that we are“ and Gus and Elenore were certainly excellent parents.
    All our love from all of our family to all of their family.

  13. Gail Chavenelle says:

    Gus was most influential in many students lives and education including us -Gail Chavenelle and Bill Dicken! Gentle and and unassuming he opened the doors to science for many. Gus Wolff was important in our and many lives. He will be missed.

  14. Edythe Puls says:

    To all of the family—my deepest sympathy for your loss.
    Gus was one of those teachers who not only passed on his love and knowledge of what he taught but inspired students to be better people. I looked forward to his classes. He was fair and kind and had high expectations while showing he cared about each student. Gus definitely influenced my decision to become a teacher.
    Since we both remained in Dubuque, I was able to visit with him occasionally. That always made my day. Gus was a remarkable man.

  15. Jeff Garland says:

    Our family (Harold and Winifred Garland, Jeff and Eric) loved Gus, and Winifred taught at Senior when Gus was there. Your family also assumed the care of our dear basset hound Norton when Eric and I were away at school and my parents were no longer able to care for him. I would like to attend Gus’ service if it will be Zoomed. Thank you.

  16. Tom Greenawalt says:

    Gus was a wonderful person, teacher and family man. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Mary Y Reed says:

    I was sorry to hear of Mr. Wolff’s passing. He was my teacher for Chemistry at Senior (1967-68) and was one of my favorite teachers. He was always so friendly and caring. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

  18. Arnie Ziegler says:

    Gus and I met when we were students at Washington Junior high school. He was the “science guy” already! We enjoyed many great times together along with Jimmy Gaines, Perry Krumback, Dick Wendy, Dale Scholz, and others. At Dubuque Senior high school we had even better times, such as our outing to Strawberry point. We found each other together again at Dubuque University. I eventually headed west to California and Gus stayed in Dubuque but we always got together every time I visited Dubuque, for homecoming. I will miss my friend, Gus, a “gentleman” to the full extent of that word.

  19. Mary Corpstein says:

    We will always remember Gus and his kind manner.

  20. Scott wodrich says:

    Mr Wolff was my homeroom teacher in junior high. I always felt a special connection with him because he graduated with my father (Bill Wodrich) and could tell me stories of them as high school kids.amazing life he had and sounded like he had an abundance of loving family and friends to share it with. You have my deepest sympathy.

  21. David Baule says:

    I was saddened by the passing of Gus Wolff. He was one of my favorite instructors in high school, and I fondly remember his kind, calm methods of handling an often unruly class of teenagers as he introduced us to the wonders of chemistry. He was kind, stern when needed, and appreciated a good joke. I was fortunate enough to have known him after high school, as he helped my aging parents with things like bathroom grab bars and other aging aids around their house. His appearance at our 50th high school reunion back in 2013 was a welcome event and he always remembered me. I don’t know if that was good or bad, but I’ll think the former. He was a wonderful, kind man, and I – along with all who knew him – will miss him. My heartfelt sympathies to his family. He was one of the good ones.

  22. Karl Miller says:

    To the Wolff family; my family sends our deepest sympathy…

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