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New York Times

Lester L. Wolff,
Influential Former Congressman,
Dies at 102

A Democrat from New York, he championed Great Society programs like Medicare, helped navigate U.S. relations in Asia and fought against
drug trafficking.


Lester Wolff


Lester L. Wolff, a former New York Democratic congressman who championed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs in the 1960s and America’s fight against international drug trafficking in the ’70s, died on Tuesday in Syosset, N.Y. He was 102.

The death, at a hospital, was confirmed by his son, Bruce Wolff.

Born in 1919, Mr. Wolff was the oldest living former member of the House of Representatives. Serving from 1965 to 1981, he co-sponsored the original Medicare law; carried a message from China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, to President Jimmy Carter that led to full Sino-American diplomatic recognition in 1979; and helped expose Indochina’s so-called Golden Triangle as a major source of heroin destined for the United States and its troops in Vietnam.

In a storybook childhood, he met Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium and received a baseball for his bar mitzvah signed by the 1932 Yankees (who won the American League pennant and swept the Chicago Cubs in the World Series). At 16, he did song-and-dance routines in nightclubs. He cast his first vote in 1940,
 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mr. Wolff, who had asthma, was ineligible for service in World War II, but he volunteered for the Civil Air Patrol. He flew hundreds of missions over Atlantic coastal waters as a pilot and observer on the lookout for German submarines and the wreckage and survivors of allied ships
torpedoed offshore.


“I didn’t actually spot any German submarines, but I felt I was doing my duty, and I loved to fly,” Mr. Wolff said in an interview for this obituary in 2017. “I had always wanted to fly, and I learned how on Staten Island, in Piper Cubs.”

As one of the wartime patrol’s last survivors, he received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on behalf of the organization in 2014.


After the war, Mr. Wolff went into marketing, founded his own agency and rang up millions in annual billings for grocery-chain ads. He also went on radio and television as a political talk-show host. In 1960, he interviewed Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic presidential candidate, who liked Mr. Wolff’s P.T. Barnum chutzpah and advised him to go into politics.

Four years later, after trimming his handlebar mustache for the decorous voter, he upset a Long Island Republican congressman, Steven Derounian, riding the coattails of President Johnson, who crushed his Republican challenger, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

As one of his first acts in the House, Mr. Wolff was a sponsor of the Medicare bill. He also voted for Johnson’s other legislative cornerstones, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In eight terms in Congress, his wide-ranging legislative agenda included bills to strengthen Social Security, environmental protections, veterans’ benefits, famine relief and assistance for refugees.

His voters in Queens (Bayside, Hollis) and Nassau County (Mineola, Great Neck, Roslyn), on New York City’s eastern edge, were mostly middle-class homeowners who liked his can-do style. Senator Robert F. Kennedy campaigned for his re-election in 1966, and he returned the favor in the 1968 presidential primaries. After the senator’s assassination, Mr. Wolff endorsed the antiwar Democratic senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota.

Traveling to more than 75 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America on fact-finding trips that his opponents derided as junkets, Mr. Wolff identified the “Golden Triangle” of Thailand, Laos and Burma as the major source of opium smuggled into the United States and to its forces in Indochina. In 1971, he estimated that up to 60 percent of Americans fighting in Vietnam were using drugs.

And in 1977, four decades before Donald J. Trump proposed a wall on the Mexican border, Mr. Wolff, as chairman of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, scoured the 1,900 miles of what he called “our Maginot Line,” where drug smugglers eluded border patrols like the German invaders who skirted fixed French defenses in World War II.

“We have six tons of heroin getting into the country a year, and last year the Border Patrol interdicted 14 pounds of it,” Mr. Wolff said. “You can just walk across the Rio Grande.”

Heading a congressional delegation to Beijing in 1978, Mr. Wolff

met Deng, who had reformed China’s economy after Mao Zedong’s death. Washington still recognized the Nationalist regime on Taiwan as China’s legitimate government, although normalizing relations with the People’s Republic promised vast economic and political benefits for both China
and the United States.

In a signal to President Carter, Mr. Wolff recalled, “Deng told me, ‘Don’t let Taiwan stand in the way of establishing diplomatic relations.’ I went home and told Carter about this.” Then, in one of the turning points of the Cold War, Mr. Carter announced that on Jan. 1, 1979, the United States would formally recognize Communist China and sever relations with Taiwan.


Helping to soothe worries over Taiwan’s future, Mr. Wolff co-wrote the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which acknowledged the People’s Republic as China’s sole legal government but mandated American protections for Taiwan’s security, economy and other interests. Signed into law by Mr. Carter, it stabilized the American position in Asia.

In 1980, after 16 years in office, Mr. Wolff lost his re-election bid to John LeBoutillier, the Republican, Conservative and Right-to-Life candidate. Voters had been troubled by Mr. Wolff’s many trips abroad at public expense, and Mr. LeBoutillier had promised to travel only between Washington and New York.


Lester Lionel Wolff was born in Manhattan on Jan. 4, 1919, the only child of Samuel and Hannah (Bartman) Wolff. His father, a marketer, worked for Ruppert Breweries, then a sprawling plant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Its owner, Jacob Ruppert, also owned the Yankees, and the connection allowed Lester to meet players, attend games and sometimes sit in the Yankee dugout during team practices.

Lester grew up in Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan, attended Public School 189 and graduated from George Washington High School in 1935 and from New York University in 1939.

In 1940, he married Blanche Silver. She died in 1997. In addition to his son, Mr. Wolff is survived by a daughter, Diane Yorg; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

From 1948 to 1960, Mr. Wolff produced and moderated “Between the Lines,” a local public-affairs television program, on which he interviewed politicians like Carmine G. DeSapio, the last sachem of Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine in New York.

In 1950, Mr. Wolff founded the Coordinated Marketing Agency, which placed ads for regional grocery store chains. The company prospered, and he remained chairman until 1964, when he ran for Congress.

After his congressional years, he was a director on various corporate boards and a consultant on Asian affairs and international trade. For years, he commuted to Washington to interview House and Senate members for the weekly PBS public-affairs program “Ask Congress.”

Mr. Wolff, who lived in Muttontown on Long Island, had a lucid memory for events and conversations from decades ago. He recalled sharing a whiskey toast in Hanoi in 1979 after Nguyen Co Thach, Vietnam’s foreign minister, promised to help find 500 Americans still missing after the Vietnam War.

“There were some results,

” Mr. Wolff said.

“But Vietnam gave up information grudgingly.”

Alex Traub contributed reporting.


Robert D. McFadden is a senior writer on the Obituaries desk and the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. He joined The Times in May 1961 and is also the co-author of two books. 



莱斯特·沃尔夫(Lester L. Wolff),前纽约民主党国会议员,曾在20世纪60年代拥护约翰逊总统的“大社会计划”,以及70年代美国打击国际毒品贩运的斗争,于星期二于纽约去世,享年102岁。

他的儿子布鲁斯·沃尔夫(Bruce Wolff)证实了他死于医院。




沃尔夫在2017年接受采访时说:我实际上没有发现任何德国潜艇,但我觉得我正在履行职责,并且我喜欢飞行。我一直想飞行,而我也在史泰登岛的Piper Cubs学会了飞行。


战后,沃尔夫先生开始从事市场营销,建立了自己的代理机构,并为连锁杂货店做广告从而每年收益数百万美元。他还在广播和电视上担任政治脱口秀主持人。1960年,他采访了民主党总统候选人,参议员,约翰·肯尼迪(John F. Kennedy),肯尼迪非常喜欢沃尔夫先生的公司,PT Barnum chutzpah,并建议他参政。


他在纽约市东部边缘的皇后区(BaysideHollis)和拿骚县(MineolaGreat NeckRoslyn)的选民大多是喜欢他的办事风格的中产阶级。参议员罗伯特·肯尼迪(Robert F. Kennedy)于1966年竞选连任并在1968年的总统初选中获得了许多支持。在参议员被暗杀后,沃尔夫先生认可了明尼苏达州反战的民主党参议员尤金·麦卡锡(Eugene J. McCarthy)。



沃尔夫说:我们每年有六吨海洛因入境,去年边境巡逻队拦截了其中的14磅。” “您可以步行穿越里奥格兰德州。


在回忆给卡特总统的讯息时,沃尔夫说:我回去之后告诉卡特,邓小平告诉我,不要让台湾阻碍中美建立外交关系’。”  紧接着,作为冷战的转折点之一,197911日,卡特先生宣布,美国将正式承认共产党中国,并断绝与台湾的关系。


1980年,在其任职16年后,沃尔夫先生再次竞选,但却败给了共和党,保守党和生命权候选人约翰·勒博蒂利尔(John LeBoutillier)。沃尔夫先生多次公费出国给选民造成了困扰,而勒博蒂维利尔承诺只在华盛顿和纽约之间旅行。

莱斯特·莱昂内尔·沃尔夫(Lester Lionel Wolff)于191914日出生在曼哈顿,是塞缪尔和汉娜(巴特曼)沃尔夫的独生女。他的父亲是一名市场营销员,曾在Ruppert Breweries工作,然后在曼哈顿上东区开设了一家庞大的工厂。它的所有者雅各布·鲁伯特(Jacob Ruppert)也拥有洋基队,这种联系使Lester可以与球员见面,参加比赛,有时还可以在参与洋基队的团队练习比赛。


1940年,他与布兰奇·西弗(Blanche Silver)结婚。布兰奇于1997年去世。沃尔夫先生除儿子外,还有女儿黛安·约格(Diane Yorg),四个孙,六个曾孙,和一个曾曾孙。

1948年到1960年,沃尔夫先生制作并主持了本地公共电视节目两线之间,并在节目中采访了卡米娜·德萨皮奥(Carmine G. DeSapio)等政治家,后者是纽约民主政治机器塔曼尼·霍尔(Tammany Hall)的最后的政党领袖。



沃尔夫先生住在长岛的Muttontowm镇上,他对数十年前的事件和对话记忆犹新。他记得1979年在越南河内,在越南外交部长Nguyen Co Thach承诺帮助找到500名在越南战争后仍失踪的美国人之后,他们在河内分享威士忌的情况。



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The World Harmony Foundation - Lester Wolff

lester Wolff






The World Harmony Foundation sadly reports the death
 of its honorary Chairman,

the Honorable Lester Wolff,

at age 102

on May 11, at 1:30 pm, EDT 2021
(at his home in Long Island)  
The cause was cardiac arrest.

A senior member of the House of representatives, he had also been a US Ambassador to the UN. While in Congress he was instrumental in the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and drafted the Taiwan Relations act which still governs ties between Washington and Taipei.

He maintained his interest in the region, and to the end was working for a peaceful rapprochement between the PRC, USA and Taiwan.

In 2014, Congressman Wolff

 accepted the
Congressional Gold Medal in 2014

 on behalf of the Civil Air Patrol, with which he flew during World War II.

 Apart from his diplomatic work, he had a deep interest in the environment.

On his 100th birthday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared

“Wolff is a gift to the American people.”

In the attached video he exhorts the World Harmony Foundation to protect the natural the former Oyster Bay refuge that now named after him,

The Hon. Lester Wolf National Wildlife Refuge

The World Harmony Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of this great humanitarian but will continue the work of its Honorary Chairman in developing Wildlife Refuge for people concerned about global warming, maintaining the global environment, and the public health.




世界和谐基金会荣誉主席Lester Wolff辞世


【和通社 纽约讯 记者刘闻益】 中美建交功臣、世界和谐基金会荣誉主席、卓越的世界和谐大使、促进二岸三地和平的英雄、美国资深国会议员、美国国会最高英雄奖获得者Lester Wolff于纽约时间202051213:30分,因心脏衰竭辞世!




美国国会议长Nancy Pelosi在他100岁生日时说: 沃夫是馈赠给美国人民的贵礼;美国国会议长前助理、也是沃夫前助理兼世界和平奖委员会主席、世界和谐基金会高级顾问Suzi博士,当晚给拜登总统写邮件通告了沃夫辞世的悲痛消息,并请总统为这个国会最老议员下降半旗致哀!


世界和谐基金会为失去这个伟大和谐荣誉主席感到悲痛万分, 世界和谐基金会将执行荣誉主席Lester Wolff 的遗志,联盟美国国会、美国白宫、美国内政部、联盟联合国把 Lester Wolff的生态公园做成教育全球人关注全球温化、维护地球环境、维护公共卫生的各国可持续发展的教育连锁基地。



Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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