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William (Bill) Woolfson

Bill Woolfson

Bill Woolfson

Like a lot of other very talented people Bill Woolfson got into teaching because the alternative was the unemployment line. When Woolfson walked into Boys HS in 1937 he was already 34 years old.

A working journalist for more than a decade, he'd been laid off as news editor for a publication called The American Banker. With job prospects nil, he followed his speech teacher wife, Edith, into the schools.

The banking industry's loss was a gain for teaching and the labor movement.

Over the next three decades Woolfson's talents as a writer and communicator were put to good use. He wrote for the Guild newspaper and, with a deep and resonant voice, did radio and television work for the Guild. Later, his way with words caught the ear of Abe Lefkowitz, the Guild's longtime legislative rep, who began taking Woolfson along to lobby in Albany. Woolfson also became a chapter leader at Christopher Columbus HS and a member of the Guild's executive board.

Woolfson's labor roots went deep — his father was a militant in the cigarmakers' union. "Bill bled union," said his wife. "He had an unswerving faith in the labor movement's role as the voice for the little man who has no voice." Woolfson's own voice was stilled in 1988, a year after celebrating his 50th year in the union he loved so much.