Former Cincinnati Royals coach, local legend Charley Wolf dies at age 96

Charley Wolf, pictured here in 1960 with Oscar Robertson, coached the Cincinnati Royals and the...
Charley Wolf, pictured here in 1960 with Oscar Robertson, coached the Cincinnati Royals and the Detroit Pistons. Wolf, a local legend who leaves behind a large family, died on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the age of 96.(Enquirer file photo | The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Nov. 26, 2022 at 1:43 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) -Life happens to us and for us.

How we use the time we’re given determines what our life looks like, and how we’re remembered.

Charley Wolf made the most of it.

“He lived a good life,” his son, Steve, told our media partners at The Enquirer.

That means that when it’s over, the people who were a part of it and shared in it, are better because of it.

Charley died on Saturday. He was 96 years old.

He leaves behind six sons, 19 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and a story that time, despite its persistence, can’t touch.

Charley was born on May 7, 1926, in Covington, Kentucky. His father, Clifford, was a salesman. His mother, Madeline, stayed at home to care for Charley and his two sisters.

It didn’t take long for Charley to find sports. Or maybe they found him.

The sports weren’t organized, but that didn’t stop him. He and his friends played football, baseball, and basketball.

Charley attended Newport Catholic High School for two years.

He switched to St. Xavier High School, which was in downtown Cincinnati at the time, so he took the streetcar over from Fort Thomas in Northern Kentucky every day.

Charley starred in football, baseball and basketball for the Bombers. He graduated in 1944 and was inducted into St. Xavier’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.

After high school, Charley went to the University of Notre Dame for one year.

He played football but broke his ankle. He also played basketball and baseball, before he joined the Navy.

Following his service, Charley played semi-professional basketball, then spent seven seasons playing baseball in the Cincinnati Reds farm system.

After baseball, he went back to school at Xavier University to get his degree.

Once he completed his degree, Charley got into coaching.

He coached baseball and basketball at Villa Madonna, which is now Thomas More University.

Right before Charley’s next endeavor, he met his wife, Loraine, who was on the Paul Dixon Show on television.

At the time, Charley was about to become the head coach of the Cincinnati Royals, a National Basketball Association franchise. Charley coached Oscar Robertson and the Royals for three years (1960-63) before coaching the Detroit Pistons.

Following his stint with the Pistons, Charley and Loraine moved back to Cincinnati, where he started a rental car business that was eventually bought out by another company.

By that time, Charley and Loraine had six children, all sons ‒ Marty, Steve, Greg, Jeff, Dan, and David.

The greatest compliment a son can give his father is to emulate him. To do what he did and live how he lived.

All six of the Wolf boys attended St. Xavier. They all played sports. Marty played basketball and tennis at Xavier University. Steve played basketball and tennis at NC State and Xavier. Greg played basketball at Spring Hill College. Jeff, Dan and David played at Rollins College.

“We did everything as a family. When we started playing tennis my dad did it to help us with our lateral movement. My dad had never picked up a tennis racket, he just went out and started practicing,” said Steve.

They’d pile into a big station wagon and the Wolfs would cover all the courts. Marty would play against his dad. Steve would play against his mom, who died five years ago. Greg would play Jeff. And Dan would play David.

“We would have all the courts. If we didn’t have four courts, we’d rotate,” said Steve.

That way of life and love of sports has permeated through the entire family, down to his grandkids ‒ many of whom played or now play college sports.

“My dad’s legacy is that he has six boys. All six were captains of our high school teams, some of us were captains of our college teams, and all six were business owners. All six of us started our own companies because of what he and my mom gave us,” said Steve.

Charley was quiet. He wasn’t the type to complain.

He was a man of faith.

“His line was, ‘All for the honor and glory of God,’” Steve said. “That’s how he lived his life. He had unbelievable faith. He had faith in God. He had faith in his family. He had faith in people.”

And more than anything, he loved his grandchildren.

“He had pictures of them everywhere,” said Steve. “He didn’t miss anything his grandchildren did until he was not able to go.”

He’d babysit and when his grandkids left his house, he’d make sure they had a pack of fruit snacks, “just to make sure they didn’t forget him.”

There would be days when he’d have five games and he’d make it to all of them to see them play.

Charley was strong. He had conviction. He was tough, loving and caring.

He drove to church every day until he was 92 years old. He still played tennis then, too.

His thoughts were positive, never negative.

Charley liked to say, “Now what do we do? Where do we go from here? How do we use this?” Steve said.

Now you remember. You go where he went. See what he saw. Feel what he felt. And you try to live like Charley lived.

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