Lester L. Wolff

Last updated
Lester L. Wolff
Lester L. Wolff.jpg
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from New York's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1965 January 3, 1973
Preceded by Steven B. Derounian
Succeeded by Angelo D. Roncallo
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from New York's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1973 January 3, 1981
Preceded by Seymour Halpern
Succeeded by John LeBoutillier
Personal details
Born
Lester Lionel Wolff

(1919-01-04) January 4, 1919 (age 100)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
Blanche Silvers
(m. 1940;died 1997)
Residence Muttontown, New York, U.S.
ProfessionConsultant
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Air Force.svg  United States Air Force
Rank US Air Force O6 shoulderboard rotated.svg Colonel
Unit Civil Air Patrol
Battles/wars World War II

Lester Lionel Wolff (born January 4, 1919) is a retired American politician and former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from New York. He served as president of the International Trade and Development Agency. In 2014, Wolff received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States. As of January 2019, Wolff is the oldest living former member of the House and the last surviving member born in the 1910s.

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they comprise the legislature of the United States.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

Contents

An expert in Asian affairs, Wolff was also the chair of the Touro College Pacific Community Institute, the author of numerous books on foreign policy, and the host of weekly PBS show Ask Congress.

Touro College university

Touro College is a private college of higher and professional education in New York City, New York, in the United States. It was founded by Bernard Lander in 1971 and named for Isaac and Judah Touro. It is a part of the Touro College and University System.

A country's foreign policy, also called foreign relations or foreign affairs policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries. The study of such strategies is called foreign policy analysis. In recent times, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, the states will also have to interact with non-state actors. The aforementioned interaction is evaluated and monitored in attempts to maximize benefits of multilateral international cooperation. Since the national interests are paramount, foreign policies are designed by the government through high-level decision making processes. National interests accomplishment can occur as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations, or through exploitation. Usually, creating foreign policy is the job of the head of government and the foreign minister. In some countries the legislature also has considerable effects. Foreign policies of countries have varying rates of change and scopes of intent, which can be affected by factors that change the perceived national interests or even affect the stability of the country itself. The foreign policy of a country can have profound and lasting impact on many other countries and on the course of international relations as a whole, such as the Monroe Doctrine conflicting with the mercantilism policies of 19th-century European countries and the goals of independence of newly formed Central American and South American countries.

PBS Public television network in the United States

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a non-profit organization and is the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street and This Old House.

Early life and education

Wolff was born in New York City to a family that had settled in the United States during the 18th century. He became bar mitzvah at a Reform synagogue in Manhattan. Wolff attended New York Public Schools, and graduated with a degree in marketing from New York University.

Reform Judaism denomination of Judaism

Reform Judaism is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, and a belief in a continuous revelation not centered on the theophany at Mount Sinai. A liberal strand of Judaism, it is characterized by a lesser stress on ritual and personal observance, regarding Jewish Law as non-binding and the individual Jew as autonomous, and openness to external influences and progressive values. The origins of Reform Judaism lay in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger and his associates; since the 1970s, the movement adopted a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than theoretical clarity. Its greatest center today is in North America.

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university spread throughout the world. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, New York City. As a global university, students can graduate from its degree-granting campuses in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as well as study at its 12 academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

Early career

He lectured at New York University from 1939 until 1941, and later became a department chair at the City College of New York. Wolff was part of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. He was a squadron commander and a subchaser.

City College of New York senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City

The City College of the City University of New York is a public senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City.

Civil Air Patrol Civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and occupations. It performs three congressionally assigned key missions: emergency services, which includes search and rescue and disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for teenage youth. In addition, CAP has recently been tasked with homeland security and courier service missions. CAP also performs non-auxiliary missions for various governmental and private agencies, such as local law enforcement and the American Red Cross. The program is established as an organization by Title 10 of the United States Code and its purposes defined by Title 36.

Wolff worked for the Long Island Press and The Bronx Home News . Wolff then founded his own firm, specializing in the food industry, and was executive director of the New York Conference of Retail Grocers. He became the producer and host of Between the Lines, a local television program, and the producer of a celebrity variety show starring Wendy Barrie.

The Long Island Press is a free monthly news and lifestyle periodical serving Long Island.

The Bronx Home News was a newspaper from The Bronx.

Food industry collective of diverse businesses that supplies much of the worlds food

The food industry is a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world's population. Only subsistence farmers, those who survive on what they grow, and hunter-gatherers can be considered outside the scope of the modern food industry.

Wolff remained active in philanthropy, heading a division of the United Jewish Appeal.

Philanthropy means the love of humanity. A conventional modern definition is "private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life", which combines an original humanistic tradition with a social scientific aspect developed in the 20th century. The definition also serves to contrast philanthropy with business endeavors, which are private initiatives for private good, e.g., focusing on material gain, and with government endeavors, which are public initiatives for public good, e.g., focusing on provision of public services. A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist.

The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was a Jewish philanthropic umbrella organization that existed from its creation in 1939 until it was folded into the United Jewish Communities, which was formed from the 1999 merger of United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Council of Jewish Federations and United Israel Appeal, Inc. In 2009, United Jewish Communities changed its name to The Jewish Federations of North America.

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1957, Wolff was selected by the House of Representatives as chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Subcommittee on Consumers Study.

He was elected to Congress in 1964 and served from January 3, 1965 until January 3, 1981. Through redistricting he initially represented the 3rd District and later the 6th District. Wolff served as Chairman of the Asian and Pacific Affairs Committee, and the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. He commanded the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, raising to the rank of Colonel.

During Wolff's 1978 congressional delegation to China, he met with Deng Xiaoping. The Deng-Wolff Conversation conducted during this time was credited for its particular importance in the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. Wolff is the author of the Taiwan Relations Act, signed into law on April 10, 1979. TRA was born of the need of the United States to find a way to protect its significant security and commercial interests in the Republic of China in the wake of President Jimmy Carter’s termination of diplomatic relations and a mutual defense treaty of 25 years.

Wolff introduced amendments to the White House-sponsored Foreign Assistance Act of 1969 to restore the initiative for direct peace talks between Israel and the Arab states. He also played a role in the Camp David Accords.

Post-congressional career

He was the president of the International Trade and Development Agency. Wolff was the director of the Pacific Community Institute at Touro College, and has published numerous books on foreign policy. He hosted a weekly PBS show, Ask Congress, continuously since the mid-1980s. Due to his expertise in Asian culture and relations, Wolff was a well sought-after consultant. He was a director of the Griffon Corporation from 1987 to 2007. Wolff received the World Peace Prize Top Honor in 2010 and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilain award in the United States, in 2014. [1]

With the death of James D. Martin on October 30, 2017, Wolff became the oldest living former member of Congress. Wolff turned 100 in January 2019.

Personal life

Wolff married Blanche Silvers in 1940; she died in 1997. [2]

See also

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References

  1. World Peace Prize Top Honer Prize-Hon. Lester Wolff WPPAC.
  2. Barkan, Ross (2017-05-30). "Long Island's 98-Year-Old Former Congressman Eats Dumplings, Hates Trump, Makes Tweets". Village Voice . Retrieved 2017-06-20.

Bibliography

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steven Derounian
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

1965–1973
Succeeded by
Angelo D. Roncallo
Preceded by
Seymour Halpern
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 6th congressional district

1973–1981
Succeeded by
John LeBoutillier
Honorary titles
Preceded by
James D. Martin
Oldest Living United States Representative
(Sitting or Former)

October 30, 2017 present
Succeeded by
Incumbent