Archive for Friday, November 22, 2002

Education filmmaker dies at 85

November 22, 2002


A Lawrence man who once co-owned one of the countryâÂÂs premier classroom instructional film companies died Wednesday.

Art Wolf, 85, whose Centron Inc. churned out educational films once seen by thousands of students, was described by those who knew and worked for him as a visionary, a leader and a gentleman.

âÂÂHe was a wonderful person for the city of Lawrence,â said Chuck Warner, president of U.S. Bank, who worked as business manager at Centron for 17 years.

Wolf and partners Russell Mosser and Fred Montgomey started Centron in 1947 in an old theater building across from the Douglas County Courthouse in the 1100 block of Massachusetts Street. In 1955 they moved into a new studio at 1621 W. Ninth St.

âÂÂHe had a variety of talents,â Mosser, who still lives in Lawrence, said of Wolf. âÂÂHe could write scripts, and he was an excellent photographer. He had the ability to write original music for films. He was really kind of a renaissance man.âÂÂ

Centron didnâÂÂt use professional actors, but instead used Lawrence students and residents in industrial and classroom films. Wolf trained all of CentronâÂÂs early production people, Mosser said.

The companyâÂÂs first film, âÂÂSewing Simple Seams,â was only 10 minutes long. Other films included âÂÂCheating,â âÂÂThe Gossip,â âÂÂThe Trouble Makerâ and âÂÂWhat About Juvenile Delinquency.âÂÂ

The company received more than 400 national and international film awards. Its 1969 film âÂÂLeo Beuerman,â about a severely handicapped man who refused to give in to self pity, was nominated for an Academy Award for short subjects documentary.

âÂÂArt was very creative, but he was also a practical businessman,â Mosser said. âÂÂHe knew how to make films on a budget.âÂÂ

Trudy Travis, Lawrence, went to work for Centron in 1947 and didnâÂÂt retire until 1985, after the company was sold in 1984.

Travis said Wolf gave her key job responsibilities that most companies didnâÂÂt give women at the time. She was writing scripts and interviewing top business leaders around the country for film projects.

âÂÂSometimes he would let me direct my own film,â Travis said. âÂÂHe was a man ahead of his time.âÂÂ

John âÂÂBuckâ Newsom agreed. Newsom, Lawrence, had ended a long career in the U.S. Navy and started another at Centron, where he became vice president of sales.

âÂÂIt was a unique experience,â Newsom said of work at Centron. âÂÂHe (Wolf) was always on the cutting edge of anything new in film technology.âÂÂ

Wolf also was involved in the community as a longtime member of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

âÂÂHe wore very well with people,â Mosser said. âÂÂHe was well-liked.âÂÂ

Commenting has been disabled for this item.