A close-knit family known for their success in the real estate business, the Wolff family’s legacy of philanthropy in the Inland Northwest stretches back to the early 1900s. Proud to call Spokane home, Alvin J. Wolff, Sr. was a self-motivated visionary who knew what he wanted out of life. He attended West Valley High School, the University of Washington and, following his discharge from the Army after WWII, Gonzaga University Law School. Alvin grew up watching his father feel restricted by the confines of office life. Consequently, after the war, Alvin set his sights on the real estate market, as it was a career that provided the freedom to move and innovate.
Alvin is a prime example of humble origins growing into a smashing success the American way. He had next to nothing when he started his real estate business. The Alvin J. Wolff Co., later called the Wolff Company, began in 1949 with a mere $1,500 loan from his brother.
Alvin’s son, Alvin J. “Fritz” Wolff Jr. joined the business in 1967 and later succeeded his father as the CEO of the company. The company became a dynamic familial empire and flourished to become a nationwide multifamily developer/owner.
Alvin Sr. was so passionate about real estate that he became president of the Spokane Association of Realtors®, then the Washington Association of Realtors®, then Treasurer and first named Vice President of the National Association of Realtors®, then President of the American chapter of the International Association of Realtors®. Representing the National Association of Realtors®, Alvin met with presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to discuss housing issues.
Among his many awards were these favorites: the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given by the National Association of Realtors® and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga University, recognizing his many gifts to the Spokane region.
Alvin Sr. passed away in 2007, but the effects of his hard work and dedication to his family and community can still be felt decades later through the impact of his charitable decisions.
The Wolff Family’s Charitable Legacy
The Wolff’s gave throughout their years in business and beyond by supporting organizations, such as the YWCA and Gonzaga University. Alvin zealously supported the education of young people in the real estate industry and co-founded the Real Estate Education Foundation. Alvin and his wife Jane created a donor-advised fund at Innovia Foundation, the Alvin & Jane Wolff Fund, in the hopes that their generosity would inspire others to give and “magnify the gifts of worthy causes.” The couple supported the Rockwood Retirement Community and their family’s church as initial beneficiaries. They left the remainder of their fund open and flexible to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community, as directed by their daughter Mitchelin “Chica” Wolff, who is currently supporting the domestic violence prevention programs at the Spokane YWCA.
Alvin and Jane wanted to ensure that the fund would support the work and organizations needing it most in the community, but more importantly, that there would always be charitable dollars in the fund. They designed their endowment to grow by retaining a portion of the investment earnings.
The importance of hard work and generosity is woven throughout the fabric of the Wolff family. It can be seen through the business they built and their philanthropic legacy. Chica Wolff said, “My parents were incredible. Their love for each other, their children and grandchildren were obvious to anyone around them.” The love the Wolffs showed their family and their community continues to inspire across the region.