Former circulation director Wohlfarth dies after lengthy illness
Memorial ser vices Saturday in Charlotte Hall
The Maryland Independent has lost one of its own, with the death of a man who for 15 years was in charge of making sure the newspaper was delivered.
Richard “Rick” Wohlfarth, 72, died July 20 after a lengthy illness.
A visitation for Wohlfarth will be held beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, with a memorial service to begin at noon, at Brinsfield-Echols Funeral Home, 30195 Three Notch Road in Charlotte Hall.
After serving four years in the U.S. Air Force, Wohlfarth entered the newspaper business. He served as circulation director of the Hawaii Tribune Herald in Hilo, Hawaii, and the Vallejo Times Herald in Vallejo, Calif., before being named circulation director for Chesapeake Publishing in February 1993.
In 2001, part of Chesapeake Publishing, which includes the Maryland Independent, The Enterprise in St. Mary’s County, The Calvert Recorder in Calvert County and the Prince George’s County Enquirer-Gazette, was purchased by The Washington Post.
Karen Acton, who served as chief operating officer of the Post’s community newspapers, said Wohlfarth built a superb circulation operation during his tenure.
“He was incredibly hardworking. He was always ready and willing to help out even when it wasn’t his responsibility,” Acton said.
Angela Breck, who served as editor of the Maryland Independent for more than 17 years, said in an email that Wohlfarth was not afraid to speak his mind and share his experience with editors.
“Rick’s job might have been directing circulation of the newspaper, but he was so much more invested than that. He had strong opinions about what should be placed on the front page and how that would translate into sales. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how the paper should look or offer an opinion on the placement of stories and photographs,” Breck said. “I valued his opinion … He cared deeply about the Independent’s reputation in the community, just as I did. We would have thoughtful discussions about news coverage, what the paper covered and why we covered it.”
Breck said Wohlfarth would hold an annual dinner at a local restaurant to honor newspaper delivery workers, and always invited her to attend so she could meet the people who delivered the paper.
“It was always enjoyable to meet those folks who were up at the crack of dawn, whatever the weather, delivering our papers,” Breck said. “He wanted to make sure the carriers received recognition for their hard work. He valued their contribution.” Wohlfarth retired in 2008 due to health issues.
“Even after he retired, I could always call him up with any questions or concerns,” Acton said. “He was a great guy, and on a personal level, I always considered him a friend. There is no doubt at all in my mind that he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”
Bonnie Rainey, circulation district manager for The Enterprise, said Wohlfarth was a very good circulation director, but knew how to get under her skin.
“I was told later he did it because he knew he could,” Rainey said. “I learned a lot from him, but I never realized how much I’d learned until he was gone.”