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In Memoriam: Ed Wulfe 1933-2019

Outstanding Developer * Caring Houstonian * Exceptional Humanitarian

The Houston Commercial Construction Industry lost a great friend, Sunday, July 28, 2019.  Ed Wulfe passed away at 85.  Most in the industry knew him best for his large development projects, Meyerland Plaza, Gulfgate Center and more recently, Boulevard Place.  Others knew him as one of the most caring and competent Houston civic leaders.  A few of us were privileged to know his extraordinarily caring heart.

By any measure, Ed Wulfe was a real estate titan, a reputation he earned by his incredible work ethic and his detailed knowledge of the retail space marketplace.  He opened his own firm, Wulfe & Company in 1985, after 17 years with Weingarten Realty.  Over the course of the years, he trained and mentored many of Houston’s most recognized names in real estate.  Anyone who worked with him can repeat his maxims – principles he lived his entire life.  “Breakfast and lunch are for making money and serving your community; dinner is for family.”  Many now hold wonderful memories of seeing him at Avalon Drug, the Omni Hotel restaurant, and other locations; huddled with others, doing business, or advancing Houston.  Or, if you were in the Greenway Plaza Area around 6:45 or 7 PM, you will recall him crossing City Club Drive, a traditional satchel-style briefcase in each hand, heading to his office in 10 Greenway, still wearing his suit with his signature, classy shirt and tie combinations.  He had finished dinner with his wife, Lorraine, and would do paperwork until 11 PM, 5 days per week.  He was “the oracle” on the retail space market.  His annual forecast at the January Greater Houston Builders’ Association luncheon, was covered by the media, and quoted throughout the year.

His service to this community is substantial and inspiring.  He chaired the boards of the Holocaust Museum Houston, The Houston Symphony, and the Urban Land Institute’s Houston District Council.  He also served on the boards of The Greater Houston Partnership, Scenic Houston, Uptown Houston, and the Texas Heart Institute.  In 2003, his negotiating expertise ended the Houston Symphony’s only strike, a milestone resolution for an organization so critical to Houston’s future.  It is impossible to quantify the amount of time he gave as “an ambassador without portfolio,” as an unpaid senior advisor and “kitchen cabinet” member to city and county leaders.  He offered deep insights into this community and commonsense, affordable solutions.  The fact that three mayors spoke at his memorial service, says it all.

A few of us got to see the depth of his humanity, to witness this deeply caring man in action.  It occurred for me at the Levy Funeral Home on Bissonnet, following the conclusion of a small, sad service for one of Ed’s former employees and a friend of mine.  This man, overwhelmed by life, left a widow and two small children.  As the formal service concluded, Ed asked that all Wulfe people, current or past, please meet him in the small room in back.  I lingered and listened as their caring commander gave this directive, “I got his deal book.  We will all take some of his accounts, close anything pending, renew anything imminent, and give all commissions to his widow.”  The seven or eight professionals nodded, got their accounts, thanked him for the gesture; their actions a collective, “Yes Sir.”  A glimpse of greatness is a lifelong gift.

Ed was honored by the Houston AGC with their Master Builder Award in 2008.  No one deserved that honorable designation more than this incredibly committed man.  He built retail structures; he built this community; he built many a successful real estate professional; and he built up all of us in this industry by his presence and exemplary standards..

Photo courtesy Houston Chronicle