It is with much pride that I post Rachel W.’s award-winning tribute to Major Stuart A. Wolfer, in response to the many comments and requests from classmates, peers, and those whose lives have been irrevocably touched by her essay . Kol hakavod.
A Military Portrait: Stuart A. Wolfer
by Rachel W.
Stuart A. Wolfer was a Jewish soldier who served as a Major in the U.S. Army in Iraq from 2007-2008. He was born on April 23, 1971, and died April 6, 2008. Stuart was born in Miami, Florida and then moved to Dix Hills, N.Y. where he and his family helped establish the Dix Hills Jewish Center. After Stuart’s Bar Mitzvah, his family and he moved to Coral Springs, Florida.
Stuart went to Taravella High School where he was in the National Honor Society and the Debate Club. He was a member in Leadership Broward, played Junior Varsity Football and Lacrosse, and was involved in the B’nai Brith Youth Organization. During his summers, he enrolled in Volunteers for Israel and was active in American Jewish Social Services, which caused him to lose his spot in football his senior year of high school.
Stuart went to Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He was then employed as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. Stuart moved from St. Louis to Des Moines, Iowa, and started his own vending machine business called Lilly Vending. Later, he moved to Los Angeles, California, for another sales job. While there, he went at night to Loyola University Law School and graduated in 2002.
Stuart married Lee Anne in 2001 and they had three daughters. They moved to Emmett, Idaho and lived on a farm. Stuart got a job at Thomas-Reuters Legal Division in Idaho and Montana, which offers legal reference information. Stuart was still serving in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps when he was called to serve in Kuwait in 2004-2005; there he became a Major. In 2007, he was called to serve in Iraq. He was sent to the Green Zone in Iraq in 2008. While in Iraq, he participated in a Jewish minyan on a daily basis. He prayed with Tefillin every morning. He asked for prayer books (siddurim) and other Jewish items he needed to practice Judaism.
On April 6, 2008, Stuart A. Wolfer and one other military officer were killed in a rocket attack while working out in a fitness center in the Green Zone of Baghdad. Stuart was buried in Iowa, where his wife’s family lives.
I admire Stuart A. Wolfer for many reasons. He worked very hard to achieve all his high school honors, while playing football and lacrosse, and serving in so many clubs. (I could never do all of that at the same time!) He was a great person because he chose to be in the Army Reserves, when he could have been home with his family. He served in the army and lived his life as a Jew while in Iraq. I find that to be amazing – to have so much courage, commitment, and kindness; to leave home, not knowing if you will ever come back.
After learning about all the things Stuart accomplished in his life, I now want to try and work as hard as I can to be just as successful. He was a smart and kind man. He got a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, started his own vending machine business, and went to law school. If I get even close to achieving any of his accomplishments, I would be so proud. He is a good influence on everyone because he is an example of true hard work and making the right choices.
During my Bat Mitzvah celebration, my mother said I could only invite three friends to our Friday night dinner. The problem was that I have four best friends. My mother had already invited two of my friends, which left me with a tough decision. I had to choose only one of my two remaining best friends. It took me a very long time to decide whom to invite. I ended up not inviting either of them, so they would not feel that I liked one of them more than the other. I explained to them why they were not invited, and they understood. I think I made the best choice I could.
Recently, my parents informed me that we are moving away from the house I have lived in since second grade to another area of town. This news was very stressful for me, and things got worse – especially when I started to see boxes of my stuff being moved away. I dislike the house I will be living in and the high school I am now zoned for, but I keep my feelings to myself because I know my parents are more stressed about this move than I am, and I do not want to add to their stress.
My tough decisions are nothing compared to the decisions Stuart A. Wolfer had to make for himself and for his family. His choice to serve in the army meant being away from his wife and three daughters. I praise him for that. He gave his life for our country. May his memory be for a blessing.