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1928 Joan 2020

Joan Hoffer

February 5, 1928 — September 20, 2020

Joan Garrett Hoffer died peacefully at home on September 20, 2020 in Upper Jay, NY and in the company of her family and with the support of High Peaks Hospice. She was 92. She will always be remembered as a remarkable woman whose greatest gift (among her many great gifts) was to stop whatever she was doing to listen and be present with others. Joan graduated from Catherine McAuley High School in Brooklyn, NY, and for many years worked as a bookkeeper at Prentiss Hall, in Manhattan. She had wanted to go to college, but instead her parents needed her to go to work, though a college education always remained important to her. She married and became a homemaker and eventually she helped make it possible for her children and her grandchildren to earn a technical or college degree with her wise and kind admonishment to “just do something with it.”

After her children had grown, she went back to work at JC Penney, a job that she loved and where she made many friends. Though she held fierce progressive views on all social and political issues, she was also proud of her traditional Irish-Catholic heritage. She would often say that what you enjoy doing changes over time but that doing what you enjoy is key to living a meaningful life. She spent summers vacationing in Onchiota and Lake Clear with her family until she and Robert Hoffer, her husband of seventy years who predeceased her in 2018, moved to Saranac Lake. There she was able to name Davin Lane (off McKenzie Pond Road) after her Irish grandmother. Later, she and Robert moved to Upper Jay to live in their own apartment in the home of her daughter Susan and son-in-law Bruce, a space she hoped that eventually her grandchildren would want to use for visits to the Adirondack Park.

Joan loved the Adirondack Mountains. She was an avid quilter, and in the last seven years,

and with the help of her close friend and caregiver, Marjie, she made beautiful quilts for each of her siblings, her grandchildren, and others. She read broadly and displayed her books, wise sayings, and witticisms throughout her home. She loved the idea of homesteading and living “simply” and believed that “food is medicine” and that it was important to garden and make meals from scratch with in-season ingredients; she was known for having a full pantry that included her famous oatmeal raisin cookies and many other baked specialties. Her favorite treat, every summer, was a trip to Donnelly’s near Lake Clear for ice cream.

She dreamed of someday going to Alaska, and in the final months of her life braved the Whiteface Highway by peeking (with mostly “covered eyes”) at views from the passenger window to enjoy a picnic lunch on the top of Whiteface Mountain, commenting that the view at the top reminded her of Alaska. Each morning she would sit by her bedroom window and watch the sunrise over her mountain view. She would count deer and turkeys, and say she was “so fortunate.” She was most grateful for her loving caregivers, Dana (her partner in collecting witticisms) and Marjie (her partner in quilting), who generously and lovingly, and with her family, supported her independence and well-being for many years. Each day, Joan’s gift to us all was her beautiful and radiant smile.

Joan was born on February 5, 1928 in Queens, NY, to Catherine Davin and William Garrett. She was the oldest of six children and remained close with her family, her siblings, and many of her nieces and nephews throughout her life. She is survived by two daughters, Susan Hoffer (Bruce Rowe) and Cathleen Hoffer (Keith Clement); two sons, James Hoffer (Hilda Hoffer) and William Hoffer (Jean Hoffer); seven grandchildren, Matthew, Stephen (Lisa), Andrea (Kevin), Courtney, Nathaniel, Johanna, Emma; and three great-grandchildren, Aubrey, Olivia, and Caleb.

Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. She requested that there be no calling hours or memorial service and asked only that her ashes be mingled and spread with her husband’s in a private ceremony over Lake Kushaqua. She wanted no donations to be made in her name, stating instead it would be nice if everyone just “loved each other gently and deeply and (with a twinkle in her eye) saved their money for a rainy day.”
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