‘A very, very close relationship:’ Waltham man recalls dad’s ties to ‘Tony’ Fauci

WALTHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - The world knows him as Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The straight-talking head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

But Dan Wolff, who lives in Waltham, knows him simply as Tony.

“I have very fond memories of Tony in that I remember that there was a very, very close relationship between my father and Tony,” Wolff said.

Wolff’s father is the late Doctor Sheldon Wolff, who was the Clinical Research Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases when Fauci started there in the late 1960s.

Wolff soon became Fauci’s mentor and friend, and Fauci became part of Wolff’s family, even attending Dan’s bar mitzvah.

“I think it was more like another son for him,” Dan Wolff said.

In this journal article Fauci wrote about Wolff:

“Shelly set me on the road to becoming a physician-scientist. Besides being a generous mentor, he became one of my closest friends and ultimately the best man at my wedding.”

Dr. Wolff left public service in 1977, taking a job at what’s now Tufts Medical Center as physician-in-chief.
But even after Wolff moved to Wellesley, he and Fauci stayed in close contact.

“I remember constant phone calls in the evening in on the landline coming into the house in Wellesley with Tony on the line. My father would saunter over to the telephone. He’d pick up the phone, “Anthony?” And that was how I know that Tony was on the phone. And then they would spend a lot of time talking,” Dan Wolff said.

At Tufts, Dr. Wolff became a beloved leader who Dr. Fauci would visit in Boston.

“Dr. Fauci would visit, he would give us talks about HIV. And it was all sort of fairly new to us. And you realized quickly had a steel-trap mind. He analyzed data very quickly. And he had an amazing respect for Dr. Wolff,” said Dr. Deeb Salem, Physician-in-Chief at Tufts Medical Center.

Sheldon Wolff passed away in 1994 after a long battle with cancer. Wolff says his family still considers Fauci part of their family.

“I was very proud of him. And I tell you, I was shocked. I mean, I haven’t really seen him in a lot of years. The guy looks fantastic,” Wolff said.

Dr. Salem says Wolff and Fauci were a dynamic duo. He’s thrilled to see Fauci leading the country through the coronavirus crisis.

“I told people, you’re going to see Dr. Fauci pretty soon because he’s going to be the knight in shining armor that will help us through this,” Dr. Salem said.

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