The family of Jacob Hoffman, 84, mourn his death Thursday, March 14, 2019. He died peacefully in his sleep at home with his family.
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Jake was born on Blue Mountain on the family farm in Andreas, Pennsylvania, and was the son of Silas Albert and Irene Millicent (Rex) Hoffman. He was a descendant of the 1767 Steigerwalts who came to America from the Black Forest near Florsbach, Germany.
Jake was in charge of herding the goats on the family homestead. His first eight years of school were spent at the one room Stone Mountain School House. After graduation from Lehighton High School he enlisted in the United States Air Force serving in New York, Texas, Florida, and Sidi Slimane, Morocco, with the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War.
Jake was a 1961 graduate of the University of Florida, receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering. There, he joined the Florida Speleological Society and gained life-long friends and a love of spelunking. He was the first caver to break through to a new limestone passage and chart parts of Warren’s Cave in Alachua County.
Jake began his career with McDonnell-Douglas Missile and Space Division in Santa Monica, California, and later, at NASA in Cape Canaveral, working on the Thor Delta and Apollo programs for seven years.
Upon the phasing-out of the space program, Jake moved to Palatka and began a twenty-five year career with Georgia Pacific. He was fondly referred to as the in-house-genius. Retiring in 1997, he did consulting work at Georgia Pacific for several years after. He was also a licensed State of Florida Professional Engineer, working with local contractors. In retirement, having breakfast with the old-time Georgia Pacific guys was one of his pleasures.
During the 1970s, Jake was a Scout leader with Troop 234 at Trinity Methodist Church. He helped Scouts earn their cycling merit badge, leading them on twenty-five and fifty mile bicycle journeys. Many family memories were made chaperoning out of state adventures.
Growing up with his homestead adjoining the Appalachian Trail, Jake was a devoted hiking enthusiast and hiked the trail all during his lifetime. After retiring, He volunteered with the Florida Trail Association and enjoyed the outdoors with the local Black Bear Chapter group he cherished: Doyle Wells, Richard Vance, Sue McCoy, Leona Ray, Allen Shoup, and Guy and Ella Lindsay; clearing brush, building many bridges, and maintaining fifty miles of trail. Jake designed and built with the group, the Rice Creek Hilton, an overnight rest area. A long boardwalk on the Florida National Scenic Trail was named Hoffman Crossing in his honor. Jake was awarded the prestigious Bob Owens Award on April 9, 2013, for volunteer service to St. Johns River Water Management District for building and maintaining a trail through the Rice Creek Conservation Area. He also helped design the Puc-puggy Nature Trail Bridge at the Water Works Environmental Education Center.
He was a member of the Vintage Chevrolet Club and spent many delightful hours restoring his 1930 Chevrolet that he drove in high school. Jake also loved his Citroens and being in the Citroen Car Club you had to keep a member roster and rescue anyone with car trouble. Over the years, he rescued and entertained numerous Citroen devotees.
A favorite pastime of Jake’s was swimming and cave diving in the Florida springs, and he built his own first scuba tank. He also enjoyed flying and received his private pilot license for single-engine flying.
In his declining years, he had fun helping to man the St. Monica Church booth during the Azalea Festival, Boo On The Avenue, and Bartram Festival.
Jake was a supporting member of St.Monica Catholic Church, Florida Trail Association, Putnam County Environmental Council, Putnam Land Conservancy, Putnam Blueway and Trails, Putnam County Historical Society, and Palatka Art League. He was a charter member of the Southside Historic Neighborhood Association where he resided for a half century in his home, the historic Conova House (1886), that he restored over the years.
Jake was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Ruth Tringone, and Bertha Hoffman; and three brothers, James Hoffman, John Hoffman, and Paul Hoffman.
He is survived by his wife, Helen Hoffman; four sons; Phillip Hoffman, (Jan), Wayne Hoffman, Eric Hoffman, (Helena), Christopher Hoffman, (Dianna); seven grandchildren, Ron, Holly, Casper, Silas, Olivia, Tyler, and Allyson; sister Helen Beck; sisters-in-law, Constance Hoffman, Carol Hoffman, and Marilyn Daniels Reinau; and many nieces and nephews.
A graveside farewell will be 3:00 P.M., Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at Westview Cemetery, St. Monica section. Reverend Father Ron Camarda will be officiating.
Preparations are in the care of Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home.