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Diane Wolf Pushed for Coinage Redesign

Diane Wolf, who died January 10, was a philanthropist based in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., who once made headlines for masterminding a plan to resign America's currency.

Wolf died at 53 during a medical procedure at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, her family said.

While serving as a presidential appointee of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in the 1980s, Wolf became an advocate for redesigning the nation's coinage. "The designs are nice, but they're dull and outdated," she told the Los Angeles Times at the time.

Under Wolf's energetic supervision, Senator Cranston of California backed the scheme, which included adding themes related to the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights to the reverse sides of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. The presidential portraits on the obverse were to be updated as well.

Wolf believed that the plan would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits as collectors stockpiled the new issues.

The proposal passed the Senate several times, but failed to pass muster in the House of Representatives. "One Congressman there always claimed she wanted to remove 'In God We Trust,'" Wolf's father, Erving Wolf, said.

Wolf, who was a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center but never practiced, treated her job on the Fine Arts commission as a full-time job, her father said.

She also sat on the boards of the National Archives, the Kennedy Center, and National Public Radio. In New York, she was a benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick, and the Whitney.

Born March 16, 1954, in Cheyenne, Wyo., Wolf was raised in Denver. Her father was an oil executive. She got a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in early childhood education. She taught briefly at an East Side private school before studying law. Wolf is survived by her parents, Erving and Joyce Wolf of Manhattan, and two brothers, Daniel and Matthew.

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