Catherine H. Hoffman


Catherine Hughes Hoffman died in her North Tisbury home on April 24, 2014. She was 99 years old. Her husband, Michael, predeceased her in 2001.

Catherine was born in Watchung, N.J., where she stayed until she finished grade school. She then attended the Drew Seminary for young woman in Cornell, N.Y.  The Oberlin Conservatory of Music accepted her as a piano major in 1931, but after two years she transferred to the college from which she graduated as an English major in 1936. That fall, she married fellow graduate Michael Hoffman.

After her husband received a PhD in Economics in 1937, he began a teaching career, first at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., then at his alma mater, Oberlin, in Ohio. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he was called to Washington, D.C., to work in foreign funds control.

In 1943, Michael was hired by The New York Times to serve as their economics correspondent in Europe with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, where they remained for nine years. Catherine’s lifelong joy in walking began with mountain climbing and hiking in the Swiss Alps.  In 1957, Michael was hired by the World Bank and settled in Washington, D.C., where they soon learned President Nixon’s house was only a few blocks away from theirs. When living in Washington, Catherine was accepted into the National Cathedral Choral Society.

To escape from Washington’s summer weather, they began spending more and more time in their Vineyard house. In 1975, they decided to move permanently to Martha’s Vineyard since Michael was ready to retire.

Catherine’s greatest pleasures in her later life involved music and art. She took art classes at the Howes House in West Tisbury. She joined the bell choir of the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury. She also continued to play her piano until her hearing diminished.  To keep abreast of the news, she watched the nightly news and Sunday morning programs.  She also subscribed to the daily New York Times and the weekly New Yorker.

Catherine led a long and interesting life and she will be greatly missed. She leaves her son, Peter Hoffman, and daughter-in-law, Barbara Hoffman, of North Tisbury; four grandchildren, Paul T. Hoffman and his wife, Kate, Peter S. Hoffman, Edwin M. Hoffman and his wife, Jitka, and Michael W. Hoffman; and seven great-grandchildren, Gregory, Zachary, Clara, Mikala, Charlie, Natalie, and Olivia.

Donations in Catherine’s memory may be made to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. At her request, her cremains will be scattered where the wild violets grow in the backyard of her North Tisbury home.  Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs: