Dr. Martin Wolfe, 82

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 7:30am

Martin Samuel Wolfe, M.D., 82, of Washington, DC and Block Island, R.I., passed away peacefully early Thursday morning, June 15, at his Block Island summer home. Dr. Wolfe was also known as Marty, Moe, and Pop Pop by colleagues, friends and family members. He was born in 1935 in Scranton, Penn., the only son of a tavern owner and a loving Jewish mother.

Marty attended Scranton Central High School where he captained the basketball team, became an Eagle Scout and was an active member of his synagogue community. He was the first in his family to attend college, Cornell University, followed by Cornell Medical College. While in medical school, his future was greatly influenced by the late Benjamin H. Kean, MD, a pioneer in the nascent field of travel medicine who inspired Marty to learn by working in the tropics. He is considered to be one of the founders of the field of travel medicine. Dr. Wolfe was affectionately known as “The Bug Man” for his ability to diagnose and treat even the most obscure tropical diseases. Dr. Wolfe was not originally destined for a life of travel and exotic diseases. Marty’s personal life also took a turn after he met and fell in love with a young Danish woman, Lise-Lotte Brunes, while traveling in Europe. She would become his wife, mother to his three children and life-long partner.

Following completion of his internship at George Washington University Hospital, they moved to Accra, Ghana, where Marty spent two years immersed in tropical medicine field work. This was followed by two years in medical residency in New York City, and a year at The London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, where he earned a degree in Tropical Medicine. His travels next took Dr. Wolfe and his young family to Pakistan, where he conducted additional tropical medicine field research. Upon returning to the United States, Dr. Wolfe settled in Washington, DC, where he worked for the Department of State and the World Bank as the Tropical Medicine expert. While at the Department of State, he traveled extensively with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on diplomatic missions throughout the world. In the 1970s, as global travel began to increase, he recognized that many travelers needed specialized care both before and after travel. Based on his years of prior travel, academic work, and knowledge of clinical tropical medicine, he founded the Washington area’s first private medical practice dedicated to travelers, Traveler’s Medical Service and the Parasitology Laboratory, of Washington. He focused the next four decades of his career on travel and tropical medicine, earning him the nickname “The father of travel medicine.” He retired from the practice of medicine in 2015.

Throughout his career, Dr. Wolfe influenced many as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Georgetown and George Washington University School of Medicine where he lectured extensively and mentored countless clinicians. In addition, he was the author of hundreds of academic papers, textbook chapters, and monographs in the fields of travel and tropical medicine. In doing so, he was instrumental in the expansion of these now well-established fields of clinical medicine.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Lotte Wolfe of Washington, DC; three children, Rebecca Wolfe Acosta, RN, MPH, of New York City, David Peter Wolfe, MD, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Miriam Wolfe Strouse, of McLean, Virginia; seven grandchildren, ages 8 to18; and a sister, Ms. Evelyn L. Wolfe, of Dunmore, Penn.