John Loyola Wolfe was born on July 31, 1879, in Clinton, Iowa. His parents were P. B. Wolfe and Margaret G. Connole Wolfe. He had two siblings: a child who was born in 1869 an died the same year, and Mary Zeta “Molly” (b. 1881).
Wolfe graduated from Clinton High School in 1897 and four years later received a bachelor of arts degree from Saint Mary’s College, located west of Topeka, Kansas. In 1902, Wolfe earned a master of arts degree from Georgetown University in the District of Columbia and, in 1904, a bachelor of laws from the same university. He was admitted to the bar in October 1904 and, with his father, founded the Wolfe & Wolfe law firm in Clinton.
On March 1, 1906, Wolfe entered the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (later Humboldt University of Berlin) in Berlin, Germany, where he studied municipal laws and political economy. While he lived in Berlin, the Iowa Democratic Party, meeting in Waterloo, Iowa, on August 7, 1906, nominated Wolfe to represent district 45 in the state House of Representatives. He was elected on November 6 and returned from Europe in time to take his seat in January 1907. He was reelected in November 1908 and served until January 8, 1911.
Wolfe married Mary Catherine Kane, a native of Nebraska, in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 16, 1912. The couple had five children: John Patrick (b. 1913), Mathew Kane (b. 1916), Mary Catherine (b. 1918), Robert Francis (b. 1921), and Margaret Ann “Margie.” Their daughter, Mary Catherine, died on November 27, 1920. Their son John was commended for bravery at Pearl Harbor in 1941, and their son Robert died testing a plane at Quonset, Rhode Island, on March 9, 1943.
Wolfe practiced law in Clinton until his retirement. He died on July 17, 1962, in Clinton. His wife, Margaret, died on April 10, 1976, in Deerfield, Illinois. They are buried together in Saint Ireneaus Cemetery in Clinton.
images: John L. Wolfe and Mary Kane Wolfe, on their wedding day, October 16, 1912, in Des Moines, Iowa; and undated photo