By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Compassionate, thoughtful, gracious and friendly were just some of the words used to describe Frederick Hoffman, 68, a longtime Dearborn resident and attorney who died Oct. 26 after a long battle with cancer.
Hoffman was also a former Dearborn deputy mayor and state official, columnist and editor of the Times-Herald and Dearborn Guide and Chrysler executive for 20 years.
Most recently, he was an attorney at Clark Hill Law spending eight years there.
“A more gracious, thoughtful, compassionate soul you would be hard-pressed to find,” the law firm wrote on Facebook. “Clark Hill is deeply saddened at the passing of our friend and colleague, Fred Hoffman.
“We are grateful for his years of dedicated service to our firm, clients and community. Our heartfelt condolences go to Fred’s family and to his many friends and colleagues. He will be dearly missed,” a message posted on their Facebook read.
From 2008 to 2010, Hoffman helped Gov. Jennifer Granholm with preventing the state’s auto industry collapse during a time where the economy was in crisis.
Hoffman, a son of German ancestors was appointed as the first Honorary Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany by German President Johannes Rau in 2002 serving under five German presidents. He regularly assisted hundreds of German visitors, expatriates and former citizens in their individual needs and often welcomed political economic delegations to Michigan, and escorted a number of high-level Michigan delegations to Germany, including the last three state governors, according to his obituary.
Known for his professional and community activities, Hoffman’s long list of notable items includes being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, elected twice as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1980 and 2012, serving 25 years as president of a local corporation providing housing to disabled adults, elected as Michigan governor of Civitan International, a major service organization, in 1976.
He also established and funded public policy scholarship endowments with spouse James R. Stokes at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan State University College of Law and Henry Ford College, the obituary said.
Hoffam earned his earned his undergraduate degree from UM-D and his law degree from MSU.
In Dearborn, Hoffman was known for his character, contributions made to help others, and for being a community and political activist. City Clerk George Darany knew Hoffman for 40 years after meeting him in 1979 while an intern for the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce.
Hoffman was familiar with the chamber and knew about the study Darany did on local businesses when he asked if Darany would do a similar one while working in the city. That wouldn’t be the last time Hoffman supported Darany — when Darany started a business, ran for city council and state representative, Hoffman was there as a mentor.
“He helped me achieve my goals, while making me feel like I was the most important person and that he was helping only me even though he was helping others too,” Darany said. “I could tell you multiple stories about when Fred went out of his way to make sure the needs of a business in distress were met, as a person and not just as a city official. Fred had a kind heart and it’s always tough to lose someone like that in this world.”
Longtime friend Gary Woronchak, was hired by Hoffman in 1974 as a part-time sports writer at the Dearborn Guide where he spent a couple years there as a freelance photographer while in high school.
“We remained friends through all the years since,” Woronchak wrote on Facebook. “I never lost sight of the fact that none of what I’ve done in newspapers or in government would have happened if not for Fred’s kindness toward and faith in me when I was in high school and had little idea of where life would lead.
“We all have that pivotal person in our lives, who helped set our course without having any idea at the time. Fred was mine. Today, we lost Fred. Jim lost Fred. Vivian and I lost Fred. Dearborn lost Fred. Thanks for everything, old friend.
Hoffman is survived by his partner of 36 years, Jim Stokes. Visitation was held Oct. 28 and 29 at Howe-Peterson Funeral Home Dearborn Chapel, with the funeral Mass Oct. 30 at St. Bonaventure Capuchin Monastery.
Donations in Hoffman’s name can be made to the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, according to the obituary.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])