He earned the nickname "Big Bad Wolfe" as a college football star. He won the NFL championship in 1938, became a millionaire businessman and maintained the family nursery until the 1990s.

Hugh Othello Wolfe did it all.

Wolfe, 97, passed away Thursday afternoon in a Fort Worth nursing facility. Memorial services are pending at Lacy Funeral Home.

Wolfe is best known to locals as the owner of Wolfe Nursery, which he ran from the time he sold his successful aluminum gates business in 1975 until the early 1990s.

Many locals easily recall the sight of the giant wolf sign that features a cartoon wolf with handfuls of money, which bears the saying, "Money DOES grow on trees!" The sign is now on display at the Stephenville Historical Museum.

Wolfe, who was born June 13, 1912 in Mason, moved to Stephenville at the age of seven when his father opened the nursery.

Wolfe's Nursery may have been his primary local venture, but it was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the legend's life.

Wolfe was first known as an athlete - starring in football, basketball and track and field at John Tarleton Agricultural College and in football at the University of Texas.

He turned down an invitation to compete in the decathlon in the 1936 Olympics - the games in Germany where Jesse Owens made history with his four gold medals. Wolfe said years later his marks were good enough to win gold.

Later that year, he won a junior college conference football championship at JTAC, and he followed it up with a senior college conference title at Texas. For the Longhorns, he hit a 37-yard drop-kick field goal to beat Rose Bowl-bound Baylor 9-7, and set a school record that stood until the 1970s with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Minnesota.

Wolfe is a member of both the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame and the University of Texas Athletics Hall of Honor.

Wolfe was part of the New York Giants team that won an NFL Championship, edging the Green Bay Packers 23-17 on Dec. 11, 1938 at the Polo Grounds in New York. It was his only year of professional football.

Wolfe moved from the gridiron to service in World War II, which led to a business idea that later made him a wealthy man.

In 1940, Wolfe and partner Karl Kessler established Al-Prodco (Aluminum Products Company) Manufacturing. They used surplus aluminum from B2 bombers that were grounded after the war, transforming it into gates for ranchers.

Years later, Wolfe estimated the company sold one $20 aluminum gate for every mile of ranch land in Texas.

As a successful businessman, Wolfe was acquaintances with presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Wolfe once owned the famous Baker Motel in Mineral Wells, and donated a valuable art collection to Tarleton State University. He is listed as one of the biggest donors to Tarleton in the school's history.

Wolfe spent his twilight years sharing coffee and many an old story - most of them, he claimed, are even true - with his friends in the group known affectionately as "The Old Goats."

Stuart Chilton is a member of the club. He is also a retired educator and journalist who considered Wolfe a great friend and wrote multiple news and feature stories on him.

"Hugh Wolfe was an example of a successful businessman, who was devoted to his family, church and this community," Chilton said. "He will be greatly missed, especially by the members of the 'Old Goats Club.'"

In an interview for a three-part Empire-Tribune series that was published in December 2008 and January 2009, Wolfe summed up his life in one brief statement:

"I'm just an old country boy," Wolfe said. "But I've lived an exciting life."