Margaret Amy Hoffman (Peggy), 95, died peacefully on January 31 in Peterborough after a long period of declining health.
She was born in Spring Lake, New Jersey on August 24, 1921 to Everard C. Stokes and Phyllis M. (Beavis) Stokes, who had emigrated from England in 1919. Her father published three books of poetry and was vice president of the Church Fire Insurance Corporation based in New York, which provided insurance to Episcopal churches. Margaret grew up in the coastal town of Sea Girt, NJ graduating from Manasquan High School in 1939, where she had played basketball and tennis. Following a preparatory year at St. Mary’s School in Peekskill, NY she entered Radcliffe College as a chemistry major where she met her husband John L Hoffman, an editor of the Harvard Lampoon and midshipman with the USNR. He was the son of artists Harry and Beatrice Hoffman of Old Lyme, CT. Margaret and Jack went on to have five children, settling first in Old Lyme, CT and then Winchester, MA, before retiring to Amherst, NH in 1984. As children arrived, her chemistry training gravitated towards kitchen cuisine and her interests shifted to child psychology and sociology. She had always been a champion of the underdog and an advocate for the less fortunate. In midlife she completed a BS in psychology at Northeastern University in 1968 followed by a MSW at Simmons College in 1973. She served as a clinical instructor at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, was employed as a medical social worker at the Winchester Hospital in MA and then for the rest of her career at Kennedy Memorial Hospital for Children in Boston. There she provided psychosocial assessments of children with a broad spectrum of problems including neurological, emotional, behavioral and developmental issues. She also provided individual and family therapy and was a group leader for the Rehabilitation Unit.
While living in Old Lyme, CT she had been a regular at the Old Lyme Beach Club during the 1940s and 50s. She and her husband were benefactors of the Florence Griswold Museum and the Old Lyme Land Trust, providing the first main portion of the riparian woodland that was to become the Hoffman-Matthiessen-Degerenday Preserve along Sill Lane.
Following retirement and the move to Amherst, NH she pursued the creative interests she hadn’t had time for while working and raising a family. She took a variety of art classes and worked hard at developing her natural talent. She became a skilled artist, working in watercolor, oils, and pastel, and produced beautiful work, mainly flower studies and portraits. She also took piano lessons and became an excellent pianist, although she was too shy to play in front of people.
For several years she volunteered for the Friends of the Amherst Town Library and FISH, a group that provides rides to medical appointments.
Margaret was an avid reader, library patron, and a gardener who thrived on being out in the sunshine maintaining her lovely flower gardens. She loved dogs and had a number of them over the years. Earlier in her life she enjoyed horseback riding. She was adept with a sewing machine and made most of her own dresses (all the while grumbling about what a waste of time sewing was). She was a devoted mother who frequently said that her greatest joy in life was her children.
Her beloved husband Jack, a Harvard social anthropologist, died in 1992 after nearly 50 years of marriage. In the years following his death, she took several trips abroad, traveling to England, France, Spain, and Russia with her sister Mary or via Elderhostel. In 2002, while attending the Unitarian church in Wilton, she met John Voss of Hollis, NH. They spent a happy five years in each other’s company until his death in early 2008. Margaret then moved with her dog Cedric to the RiverMead retirement community in Peterborough NH, where she lived until the time of her death.
She was predeceased by a son, John L. Hoffman, Jr. in 1957, by both parents, her sister Mary Horn, and her beloved West Highland white terrier, Cedric. She is survived by her sister Beatrice Miles, her devoted children, David Hoffman and his wife Suzanne of Bivalve, MD and Old Lyme, CT; Stephen Hoffman of Alexandria, VA; Thomas Hoffman and his wife Alexis of Anchorage, AK; and Elizabeth Hoffman and her partner Anthony Iovino of Putney, VT. She is also survived by her four grandchildren, Molly and husband Mike, Alex and wife Amanda, Michael and wife Cheryl, and James; three great-grandchildren, Sophie, Oliver, and Madelyn; her sister Beatrice Miles, and seven nieces and nephews.
Margaret was smart, funny, artistic, empathetic, insightful, and generous. She will be greatly missed.
Her family would like to thank the staff at RiverMead for their unfailingly patient and loving care.
She was buried at the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme, CT. A family memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Margaret’s memory may be made to Westie Rescue of New England, 10 South Washington Street, Norton MA 02766 www.westierescuene.com or your local humane society.