Local businessman chronicles a lifetime of memories
Walking over to a wall, he stops to admire the photographs that represent many memorable moments in his life. Taking a moment, his eyes slowly go up and down the rows of photos, scanning each one looking for one in particular to point out. Soon the photo he looks for is found and a smile beams over his face and a glimmer in his eyes followed by a few details of why the photo is special.
Don Hoffman has experienced many different things over the course of his life. The man who ran Hoffman's Hard Hat for many years, now has the time to sit back and admire the best parts of his life, even while at work. In one of the showrooms at the Hard Hat store, 21 W. Main, Hoffman took some time to put together a collage of photos over the course of his life. Each group of photos is separated into categories including hunting trips, fishing expeditions, traveling, family memories, the furniture business, his time spent in the Army and more.
With all the copies of newspaper articles, photos and other mementos sitting at home, Hoffman decided to put things to good use. Over the course of a few weeks, he created the masterpiece of moments during his 81 years of life for anyone to stop and take a look. If you never met the man behind the photo wall, taking a few moments to stop and review the photo collection would give a a person a good idea as to who Don Hoffman is.
"Instead of keeping everything in a box at home he decided to put it to use and display it in the store," said Hoffman's daughter Sue.
Hoffman was born on July, 10, 1929 in Lansing, Ill. He was the seventh child born in a family of 10 and spent many of his years growing up in Crown Point, Ind. As he became older he did many things to help support the family including picking potatoes at a farm for 50 cents an hour, mowing the lawn at the local cemetery, working at a grocery store, at a bank as a teller and part-time at a drive-in. At the age of 18, Hoffman joined the Army National Guard in Indiana.
Around that time in high school, Hoffman met the love of his life, Janet Elaine Chittum. The attended school dances together and were voted King and Queen of the high school dance. After dating for three years, they married on Oct. 23, 1948. It was soon after that Hoffman would come to Utah for the first time where he has been ever since.
In March of 1950, the Hoffman's moved to Salt Lake City, where members of Jan's family had previously lived. It was there when they started a family that would expand to include six children: Daniel, Kenneth, David, Timothy, Sue and Paul.
Much as he did growing up, Hoffman worked numerous jobs at a time to help support his family. During this time he worked as a salesman selling vacuum cleaners, sewing machines and even went door-to-door selling Bibles. He continued his work in the banking industry when he began working with Continental Bank, helping to get the computer systems running and watching over the data processing center. He also joined the Army Reserves in Salt Lake City where he regularly attended meetings and would spend time each summer at Fort Lewis, Wash., at the Army base with the reserves. He served as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army and spent a total of 26 years serving.
He was an avid hunter and fisherman and spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. Hoffman was also known for having a good pair of vocal cords. His love for music was started in a church choir and soon expanded as he was a part of some musical groups including "The Tune Tenders" and with the Barber Shop Quartet.
Wanting to get away from the big city and back out into the country, Hoffman went to Moab where he opened up a Hoffman's Castle Valley Ranch. He and his family hand-crafted the buildings on the ranch where they would eat meals served out of a old fashioned wagon and entertained guests by singing by the campfire. The family even got to have a little fun when a couple from the Dating Game show visited the ranch and were treated to a good time, even ambushing them a little. Many stories and memorable moments were made at the ranch over the years but soon, as the children grew older and left home, Hoffman sold the ranch and moved on.
The next move Hoffman made was one that has helped him become a well-known member of the community as he and his family moved to Price in 1974 where he opened Hard Hat, first starting out in an old tire building. The store would later be moved to its current location where it has been ever since, even undergoing a remodel. The business was given the name Hard Hat because of the importance of coal mining locally and Hoffman wanted the business to represent a part of the area. Hoffman's daughter, Sue, handles the bookkeeping and his son, Paul, serves as the manager.
"We've always worked well as a team," Paul explained while growing up with his family at the store.
Over the years, Hoffman has experienced a lot in life. But along the way he has also endured some health issues. In May 1999, Hoffman had a massive stroke that has affected his ability to speak. While he may not always be available to verbalize the thoughts in his head, he always carries a pen and notepad to get his thoughts across to others.
Nine years later in April 2008, Hoffman had another health scare. He had two aorta aneurysms and had to be life flighted to Salt Lake. Over the course of nine weeks he stayed in the hospital and underwent other surgeries. Sue said that the doctors had an interesting take on Don's health scare.
"The doctors said that it looked like a bomb went off in his chest," Sue said. Known by his family to be a strong man, Hoffman got better and became well enough to the point he could return home. But getting rest was not the first thing he wanted to do when he returned to Price.
"The first thing he did when he got home was come back and visit the office," Sue said. "He's just a stubborn German man."
Recently Hoffman was named as the Grand Marshall for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Price on Saturday March 12. As a people person, Hoffman likes to visit with friends and members of the community to talk and share stories. When he first heard he was named Grand Marshall he was excited, Sue said.
"It's quite an honor for him," she said. Hoffman joked saying he was German and not Irish
After being asked what he is most looking forward to during the parade, Hoffman smiled, raised his hand and began waving saying he wanted to see everyone around town. He already has plans after the parade to head over to Notre Dame Hope Community Center to enjoy some corn beef, cabbage and green beer.
For a man who has been through a lot over the years, few words will need to be said on that day. All it takes is a good smile and some strong muscles in the hand to perform the job.
When it's all said and done, it will be another moment in life and another special moment for the collage at the office.