(written by Joe Hoffman’s family and his fellow board members of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council)
Joe Hoffman’s Twitter page description, in its entirety, reads, “Trying to make the world a better place,” and nothing could better encapsulate the man. Joe took pleasure in the small, beautiful, delicious and amusing things around us, in cooking and gardening with thought and care, making computing simple for some of us and better for the City of Los Angeles, the Greater Wilshire NC and many grateful clients. But most fundamentally he cared about helping people – friends and strangers alike.
Born in New Jersey, Joe grew up in a village of 150 people, even though it was only an hour from New York City. Along with inheriting his family’s strong work ethic and unusual balance of creative passion and logical thinking, the mix of small-town heart and big-city dreams guided his life path and his values. After working in film editing in New York and DC, he moved to San Francisco at the same time his little brother moved to LA. Their urban rivalry remained enjoyably vivid until, chasing a boyfriend, he moved to LA in the 1990s… half a block from Melrose, and just one block from his little brother, where he lived and worked as a web designer until he came to our neighborhood in the mid 2000’s.
Joe cooked to give delight to the people who were the lucky surprise recipients of his marmalades, pickles and preserves; he helped our City’s homeless people not because he received accolades, but because it was what he could do. When it came to giving of himself, he tended to believe that “could” means “should,” and so he simply did. He helped those who worked with him in innumerable ways, making their jobs easier and their work more effective – because he wanted the world to be a better place and he wanted them to make it better, too. Even to the end: One of his last tweets was “Fight stupidity with facts – go metro” which had uncharacteristic typos because even as his abilities were failing him, he was still reading, taking notes and sharing his opinion with friends, even as it became frustratingly difficult for him to express himself.
Joe was empathetic, even in criticism; kind and a bit patient, even when he was frustrated with our failings. He had a way of looking right at you in conversation, making you aware of just how much he was really listening – even as he was barely able to make conversation at the end. He was sweet, smart, wise and witty, and saw the best in people and in Los Angeles – looking constantly for a way to do even better.
He was indefatigable. An honorable, fine and funny fellow who will be missed not just for all he did, but for all he was, to all of us.