A Gentle Giant Remembered

Ryan Thomas

If you needed someone to talk to, Wolf Jules was there for you. If there was a disagreement, Wolf was there to diffuse the situation. If you just wanted to have a solid, intellectual conversation, he was always good for one of those, too.

For those reasons alone, Wolf Jules’ unexpected death on Friday, September 19 has been such a hard pill to swallow for so many.

“When I heard he died, I actually didn’t believe it at first,” said A.J. Titus, a teammate of Wolf’s on the 2006-07 UMass Boston men’s basketball team. “I kept it to myself. It was almost surreal. Wolf was one [of the] nicest, most polite people I have ever met. He is the last person I could have imagined anything bad happening to.”

A.J.’s sentiments are being felt all across the campus of UMass Boston, reverberating like sound waves. Wolf’s passing has been like a bad dream to all who were ever associated with the big man. Standing at 6-foot-10, Wolf towered over almost everyone. It didn’t really matter though, Charlie Titus said. “He was a big guy, but he was gentle, he was soft spoken. He had a very, very disarming smile. He was just a guy that you liked to be around.”

Wolf’s congenial nature never went unnoticed. After only meeting him once, you would remember how polite he was, or how comfortable he made you feel. And no matter where he was, or what he was setting his mind to, Wolf always kept to those doctrines. On the basketball court, Wolf was everything a coach dreamed of.

“He actually played a lot more than I thought he was gonna play the first year with us because he was such a quick learner,” his basketball coach and friend Charlie Titus said. “He was the type of guy that, you only had to tell him things once. You tell him something once, he grasped it and then he could work on it and master it.

“He came to practice on time everyday, he worked hard; I mean he worked hard every day. I never, ever remember him taking a second off or a nano-second off. He was just a good teammate. He was a role model for us.”

During his one season playing for the Beacons, Wolf appeared in 22 games. He averaged 8.0 minutes per game, 1.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks. Some of the Wolf’s contributions, however, didn’t show up on the stat sheet. “There were times on the bus or in the locker room when we would have arguments about things, and Wolf would just quietly interject with what he thought, and everyone would just stop because whatever he said just brought logic and clarity to everything,” said A.J. Titus.

That was just the way Wolf operated. He was the same guy around everyone. Henry Nguyen, who became a good friend of Wolf’s through the Haitian American Society (HAS), knew Wolf as the same figurative peace pipe. “If you needed someone to talk to, he was there to listen,” said Nguyen. “I think the few people who really did know him and had a chance to talk to him knew that, so they would turn to him just to have him listen and assess the problem because he was the third person looking in. He would give his two cents that may click.”

Wolf was more than just a great friend and a budding basketball player though. He had a passion for art, something that both Nguyen and Charlie Titus were aware of. “We had been exploring the possibility of [him] staying enrolled here but being able to take art courses at Mass College of Art,” he said. Wolf was disappointed that UMass Boston did not have more of an art program. Program or not, Nguyen said art was “how he broke away from everything to … calm himself and find himself at peace.”

Peace was something that Wolf searched harder and harder for in the time leading up to his death. Before Wolf came to UMass Boston, he lost his fraternal twin brother Stanley Esdras Odige Jules to an asthma attack. That loss weighed him down psychologically, but not many people knew about it. Then, in March of 2008, Wolf’s older brother was shot twice and then subsequently arrested, only adding turmoil to Wolf’s already fragile psyche.

Regardless of what led up to his death, Wolf will be remembered in an ultimately bright, eternal light. “People will remember him as a person who had a wonderful smile, a great, great personality, a ton of potential and as someone who people just generally liked,” said Charlie Titus. “I would think most anybody you ask would say he was a tremendous asset to our community here at UMass Boston.”

In part, Nguyen will remember Wolf as HAS’s publicist for Tchaka Night, a cultural Haitian celebration that features music, dancing, poetry, a recognition of Haitian-Americans, their history, and the current state of Haiti and its cultural issues. “He would go around and promote what we did, especially when it came to Tchaka Night because … he would spread the word.”

“[I’ll miss] him towering over me and just smiling,” Nguyen added. And the hugs too. “Every time I would see him I would just give him a hug. Now and then we would joke and he would raise his hand up and go ‘Henry, give me a high five’.”

In Wolf’s guest book on Boston.com, a friend of his writes that, “A person like Wolf is like a four leaf clover, hard to find but lucky to have once you’ve found him.”

And you’ll never find anyone disagreeing with that.

“Wolf’s imposing stature and size was only matched by the size of his heart,” said A.J. Titus.

Said Charlie Titus: “I’ll always see that unbelievable gait running up and down the floor. It looks like a spring colt that just broke loose. Those images, those visions just stay with me.”

“His spirit was pure, there’s no question about that.”