GER-VOLGA-L ArchivesArchiver > GER-VOLGA > 2009-12 > 1260641897
From: "Dennis Zitterkopf" <>
Subject: [GV] obituary-Donald J. Hoffman
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 12:18:17 -0600
Many of you knew Don Hoffman as an active research of his GR heritage so I'm
including his obituary from the Helena MT Independent Record
Donald J. Hoffman, 72, died Nov. 15, 2009, unexpectedly at St. Peter's
Hospital following a brief illness.
Donald Joseph Hoffman (Don) was born in Helena on July 14, 1937, to Henry
and Elizabeth Hildebrand Hoffman. Don's youth was spent in Helena, where he
attended Central Grade School and Helena High School and graduated in 1955.
On Aug. 27, 1961, Don married Sandra Lee (Sandy) Bell in Helena and they
started life's journey together in Butte. Daughter, Janice Lynn (Jan), was
born the following August. Life was good in Butte, America, and Don had fond
memories of Butte. Sandy died in 1997 in Denver.
Don took two years of radio-school training as part of the Vo-Tech courses
taught at the airport while attending Helena High. He began his long and
varied career in the radio, television and telecommunication industries by
mowing the lawn, mopping floors and shoveling snow at KXLJ radio station.
While in high school, Don began to do the engineering for the live remote
radio broadcasts from area merchants and the engineering for sports events
that the radio station broadcast in Helena and around the state.
Don was active in the drama department at Helena High behind the scenes with
staging and operation of the lighting and sound systems. He was a member of
Thespians and that interest carried over to stage management activities with
the Frontier Town Players and the Old Brewery Theater on West Main.
He graduated from Radio Engineering School in Burbank, Calif., in 1956, and
returned to Helena to continue working at KXLJ, where he later became chief
engineer and did engineering for the other LX stations in Montana. During
the years of 1958 and 1959, Don helped build KXLJ-TV channel 12 on Montana
Avenue, where the radio studios were eventually moved from the log cabin on
11th Avenue. In 1960 Don and Sandy moved to Butte, where he worked as the
maintenance engineer for KXLF radio and television.
The year 1965 brought a career change for Don when he left the radio and
television industry to join the world of telecommunications with Mountain
Bell and AT&T in Billings. The years there were spent working on the
microwave radio and long distance transmission operations of the AT&T
network, along with military switching systems. In 1980 he transferred to
AT&T Headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J. It was a wonderful experience for
Don to be involved in the development and deployment of the first digital
microwave radio and fiber-optic systems and the supporting engineering and
operations management systems working with Bell Laboratories and Western
Electric. When the Bell System broke up in 1984, Don and Sandy made the
choice to return West, where he went to work for US West in Denver in their
microwave and fiber-optic deployment and operations. In 1987 Don joined US
West's new research and development group to work on advanced network
management systems and later telemedicine and video to the home. Don retired
from US West in 1998. Retirement was short-lived and six months later he
returned to the telecommunications industry as a consultant.
In 2000 Don finally retired for good to pursue his hobby of genealogy. His
efforts in tracing his genealogy often took Don to the Internet and eBay. In
May 2001, he noticed a Helena City Directory for sale. Little did he know
when he bid on that book that his life would take another road that would
return him to Helena. The seller was a 1955 classmate, Helen Morrison Diehl.
After 15 months of e-mails, Helen finally agreed to have dinner with Don in
Helena. Serendipity! Don and Helen were married June 28, 2003, in Sheridan,
Wyo., and made their home in Montana City.
Don was a life member of the American Historical Society of Germans from
Russia, the Colorado Genealogical Society, Northern Pacific Railway
Historical Society, life member of the Elk's Lodge Billings, Montana
Historical Society, Lewis & Clark County Genealogy Society, and Palatines to
America. Don was a volunteer in the photo archives at the Montana Historical
Society, worked on the Warren McGee train photo collection and was currently
working on the Leslie Jorud Collection.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Sandy; and brother, Ray;
half-brother, Henry; and half-sister, Charlotte Hoffman. Survivors include
his wife, Helen of Montana City; daughter, Jan (Kevin) White of Gillette,
Wyo.; grandsons, Jeremy White of Las Vegas and Kristoffer White of Bozeman;
brother, Charles (Barbara) Hoffman of Fresno, Calif., sister-in-law, Nancy
Hoffman of Penn Valley, Calif.; sister Doris Kranich, of Helena;
stepdaughters, Karen Diehl (Jack) Orr of Tacoma, Wash., and Gretchen Diehl
(Larry) Longcoy of Oak Ridge, Tenn.; several nieces and nephews, including
Charlotte Trainer of Helena.
A memorial service will be held at Hagler-Anderson Mortuary at 2 p.m. on
Wednesday, Nov. 18. Memorials may be sent to the Montana Historical Society,
P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620; or to a charity of donor's choice.
|[GV] obituary-Donald J. Hoffman by "Dennis Zitterkopf" <>|