Robert L. Wolfson, among St. Louis Blues' first owners, dies at 88

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Wolfson, who lived in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, died Friday at a hospital, Rindskopf Roth Funeral Chapel said Sunday.

Wolfson, Sidney Salomon Jr. and Sid Salomon III obtained an NHL franchise for the city in 1966. The Blues reached the Stanley Cup final their first three seasons (1968-70) but have never won the title.

"It was the place to be on a Saturday night," Bob Plager, who played on the first Blues team and is now involved in the team's community relations and radio operations, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Wolfson and the other owners often invited the players to their homes after games, said Plager, who remembered Wolfson as "a good friend to everyone who played in those early days of hockey in St. Louis."

When the team was sold to Ralston Purina in 1977, ensuring that the Blues would stay in St. Louis, Wolfson helped put the deal together.

Wolfson owned several car dealerships and was chairman of GEM, a chain of membership discount stores that once had 50 locations nationwide. He also helped charter several banks in the St. Louis area. He was appointed chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission in 1993 and served until 1998.

Wolfson, who was born in Velva, N.D., served as an Army captain in India during the Second World War.

He is survived by his wife, Ethel; sons Andrew Wolfson and Robert Wolfson Jr.; daughter Anne Wolfson; stepdaughter Jill Lee; two grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren.

The funeral is Monday in Creve Coeur, with burial in Affton.