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Published: Saturday, 5/4/2013

Joseph I. Hoffman [1924-2013], Rail engineer aided children with disabilities

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Joseph I. Hoffman Joseph I. Hoffman
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(News Article) TEMPERANCE — Joseph I. Hoffman, a railroad engineer and a leader as parents banded together to gain services for their children with developmental disabilities, died April 19, in Sunset Village, Sylvania. He was 88.

He developed complications after breaking a hip in a recent fall, his cousin Wendy Hoffman said. He and his wife, Constance, lived independently in their Temperance home until about two months ago.

Mr. Hoffman, whose son, David, has Down syndrome, was a founding member in 1962 of the Monroe County Association for Retarded Children.

“Things he believed in he was quite active with,” his cousin John Hoffman said. “He was a knowledgeable man and was soft-spoken, well-mannered. That went a long way toward influencing people.”

Mr. Hoffman was the group’s first treasurer and its president from 1964-66 and from 1972-74. He was on the governmental affairs committee of the state association and later was a regional state vice president.

“Back in the ’60s, people don’t realize how limited services were,” said Rusty Shorter, a former board president and director of what became Monroe County Association for Retarded Citizens and what is now Mon-Arc of Monroe County. Residential and day programs and even schooling were difficult to find.

Mr. Hoffman testified before state House and Senate committees in support of legislation to benefit parents and their children.

“He put in many, many hours, many nights, when he wasn’t working his regular job,” Mr. Shorter said. “He was very dedicated, very brave. With as enlightened as we are as a society, back then when you had a child who was developmentally disabled, the professional people would say you have to put them in an institution and forget about them.

“Joe and a lot of parents did not,” Mr. Shorter said. “Joe and his wife would go to school board meetings, the Legislature, county commissioners.

“Joe, he knew how to work with people. He was very intelligent and very dedicated to what he did.”

He was born June 4, 1924, in Toledo, to Edith and William Hoffman, but the family moved to a farm on Jackman and Sterns roads when he was small. He was a 1942 graduate of the former Lambertville High School. He helped his father on the farm, which included a slaughterhouse that offered butchering services to area farmers.

An Army veteran of World War II, he served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the U.S. occupation force in Japan. He was assigned rail yard duty there. Once discharged and back home, he served an apprenticeship as engineer of a steam locomotive on the Pere Marquette Railway. Rail lines merged and consolidated, and by his retirement in 1984, he was a diesel locomotive engineer for CSX Transportation.

He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and was a delegate to the union’s 1982 state convention.

He was a member of VFW Post 9656 in Lambertville, the Bedford Senior Citizens Center, and the Historical Society of Bedford. He was a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Temperance.

Surviving are his wife, Constance, whom he married May 11, 1957; son, David, and brother, William P. Hoffman, Jr.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Temperance, where the body will be after 10 a.m. Arrangements are by the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance.

The family suggests tributes to Mon-Arc of Monroe County.

Contact Blade Staff Writer Mark Zaborney at mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

 



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