Longtime parachute rigging instructor and skydiver Dave DeWolf, D-1046, passed away late in the evening of Wednesday, May 22, at age 86. DeWolf was known to nearly everyone as “Handsome Dave,” and his friends, students and colleagues remember him not only for his extensive knowledge of rigging, but also for his playful personality and sense of humor.
DeWolf, who began skydiving in the Army in 1962, jumped in every calendar year since and accumulated more than 13,000 jumps in the process. He was an active member of the Parachutists Over Phorty Society and its subgroups, including Jumpers Over Eighty, and was on several age-group world-record formation skydives. He was a founding member of the Maytown Sport Parachute Club in Marietta, Pennsylvania, and the United Parachute Club in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania.
Although he accumulated many skydiving accomplishments, DeWolf was best known as a parachute rigging instructor. He founded the Para Loft rigger’s school in 1977, and more than 1,000 students learned how to pack reserve parachutes under his instruction. At age 86, he was still actively involved in training senior riggers through his school. On May 23, Para Loft posted to its website, “Dave DeWolf's cadre of instructors who have worked with him through many years will carry on his legacy of training parachute riggers at the rigging school.”
DeWolf received the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service in 2001, the Spirit of POPS Award from the Parachutists Over Phorty Society in 2004 and the Don Beck Memorial Award from the Parachute Industry Association in 2007. The National Skydiving Museum inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2016.
Plans for a memorial have not yet been announced.