BGSU benefactor endows prize for filmmakersWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
A well-known supporter of Bowling Green State University, Ralph Haven Wolfe, recently endowed a filmmaking prize in memory of his longtime friend, Edgar Fisher Daniels.
Wolfe, a distinguished teaching professor emeritus of English and Gish professor of film studies, also serves as the curator of The Dorothy & Lillian Gish Film Theater & Gallery. Wolfe and Daniels had been family friends since 1955, until Daniels passed away in August 2010.
“[Daniels] was a very genial person and had a great sense of humor. He was, of course, a great reader and got along with everybody,” Wolfe said.
Daniels, an emeritus professor, taught at BGSU from 1953-81 and served as chair of the English department from 1971-78. He had a side interest in experimental and independent filmmaking, taught film classes and wrote articles on the subject, Wolfe said.
Wolfe decided to honor his friend’s interest by creating a prize because prizes are “much more akin to Hollywood, which gives prizes instead of scholarships,” he said with a laugh.
To be eligible for the prize, a student must be a rising sophomore, junior or senior with a declared major or minor in BGSU’s department of theatre and film “who produces a body of outstanding creative work that emerges among his or her peers’ work as especially insightful, experimental and/or technically assured,” according to a news release.
A faculty member of the department of theatre and film must also nominate the student.
Wolfe expects the prize to be awarded this spring. The prize will be at least $500 and BGSU is still taking donations in Daniels’ memory, he added.
The video viewing center and resource room in Hanna Hall were also funded by Wolfe, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BGSU.
Ron Shields, a professor and chair of the department of theatre and film said of Wolfe’s involvement, “I am deeply grateful for Dr. Ralph Wolfe’s continued support of the film program at BGSU. This is only the most recent in a series of gifts — some public, many private — he has given in support of the arts.”
Wolfe grew up in Wood County, where his childhood interests reflected his future.
“My two favorite activities were going to the Virginia Theater and the public library because I enjoyed reading and going to movies. I think I saw every movie that came to town,” he said.
After receiving his master’s degree, Wolfe went on to earn his doctorate at Indiana University before teaching at Monmouth College in Illinois and Indiana State University. In 1967, his father died and Wolfe returned to Wood County to live with his mother.
“I’m a roots person and I believe in roots, I’m a true Wood Countyian,” he said.
His friend Daniels was a Dayton native who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. For his master’s and doctorate degrees, Daniels attended Stanford University, where he met his wife. The couple eventually purchased a home in Carmel, Calif., where Daniels spent his final years. His wife died in 1994 and Wolfe would travel to Carmel to spend the summer or winter months with Daniels.
“I became his kind of caregiver until his death in 2010,” he said. Wolfe still plans to travel to his friend’s former home, where he will spend the month.
Gifts to the Edgar Fisher Daniels Prize in Filmmaking should be made payable to the Bowling Green State University Foundation, Inc. and mailed to Mileti Alumni Center, 136 N. Mercer Road, Bowling Green, 43403.