The Honorable Charles R. Wolle, 87, left this world to join his Creator on the afternoon of December 6, 2022, at Covenant Village outside of Denver, CO. His loving wife of 61 years, Kerstin, was by his side, along with other family members.
Charles was born on October 16, 1935 in Sioux City, Iowa, to William C. and Vivian (Down) Wolle. The youngest of four children, he matriculated to Harvard College where he earned his BA in 1959, then his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1961. He spent his childhood summers working on the Down family farm in Odebolt.
During law school he met the love of his life, Kerstin Wennerstrom, an exchange student from Lidingo, Sweden. They married on June 26, 1961 in Lidingo. Charles and Kerstin lived in Sioux City where they raised four sons, Karl (Hilda) (West Des Moines), Erik (Mysti) (Franklin, TN), Thomas (Susan) (Cedar Rapids), and Aaron (Heidi) (Arvada, CO).
Charles was a trial lawyer in Sioux City from 1961 to 1980. In 1983 he was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad as a justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, serving until August 1987. He spent many summer weeks in Reno, Nevada as a faculty member of the National Judicial College. In 1987 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. He served as Chief Judge for 9 years, assumed senior status in October 2001 and retired in December 2021. He was highly respected by fellow members of the Judiciary, the Bar, the litigants, and the public he served.
Charles competed in countless tennis tournaments and multiple marathons. He was a 6’5” forward on the Harvard Crimson basketball team and often returned to play in the annual alumni game in Cambridge, where he suited up for the last time in 2015 after turning age 80,
the same year he completed his last Des Moines half marathon. His favorite games were those played with his sons. In the mid-1960’s, when Kerstin was in Sweden visiting her mother, Charles wrote a letter encouraging them to involve the boys in the Suzuki Method of music instruction. Music soon became an important part of family life, and it has continued through the generations.
Charles was a voracious reader. His knowledge of world history, current politics, classical music, and sports in particular was remarkable. He appreciated the humor of cartoons in The New Yorker and loved to recite poetry including his favorite, ‘Excelsior’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Charles and Kerstin loved to travel within and outside the U.S. They frequently visited Kerstin’s siblings and other relatives in Sweden. Up until November 2021 when they returned to Iowa, the couple spent the last 20 years of their life together in Gardnerville, Nevada, in a home overlooked by Job’s Peak in the Sierra Nevadas, where they hiked together often.
Most of all Charles was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather who loved us and inspired us.
He is survived by Kerstin, their four sons, nine grandchildren, as well as older sisters Carolyn Cox and Jan Nielsen.
Hieis preceded in death by brother William.
Arrangements will be made at a later date for a celebration of his life to be held in Iowa.
Following cremation, Charles’ ashes will be spread near a favorite trail in Nevada.