Grieving to Giving

When Andrew “Andy” Hoffman passed away unexpectedly on March 25, 2017, he left his loved ones with vivid memories of his extraordinary selflessness, contagious positivity, competitive spirit, adventurous soul and inspirational persona.

“He did everything to the extreme and usually succeeded,” recalled his mother, Ellen. “Even when he was a little kid, he was like that. He couldn’t just skateboard, he needed to learn how to skate down handrails and show off his tricks. He was wired that way.”

Andy not only was competitive and energetic, he was personable and kind.

Making friends came easy to Andy because he was outgoing, likeable and had a great sense of humor. He was one of those guys that people naturally gravitated toward, magnetic in a sense. He could strike up a conversation with anyone, and soon they would be talking and laughing like old friends. He eventually got the nickname “Cheese” because he was always smiling from ear to ear.

“He might have been a small kid, but he had a huge personality and heart,” Ellen added. “He would do anything for anyone.”

He often sought out students who were shy or unpopular to make sure they felt included. When local individuals and families fell on hard times, Andy would lend a helping hand by dropping off food. Once while in an AT&T store, he helped a mother with two special needs children purchase a cell phone.

In high school, Andy was a member of Hoover High School’s soccer, lacrosse and swim teams. To this day, coaches and teammates remember how Andy would leave notes of encouragement for his teammates before a big sporting event. He was known for inspiring confidence in people that they didn’t have in themselves.

After graduating in 2007, he continued his academic and athletic career at Wittenberg University where he studied physics and mathematics while playing soccer. Andy later earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

His accomplished engineering career led him to working on Department of Defense contracts in New Jersey where he also taught youth soccer in his spare time. When he moved to Oklahoma to become a systems engineer for the world’s largest aerospace company, he told his parents he wanted to do something meaningful with his life. Andy’s most recent work was on Boeing’s E-3 Sentry, an airborne early warning and control aircraft.

After his unfortunate passing at the age of 29, his family felt the best way to honor him was through a memorial fund at Stark Community Foundation that could support meaningful causes in the community.

“When Andy passed away, we saw how people from all over responded to his passing,” said Andy’s father, Bob. “We heard from his friends and their families, coaches, teammates and colleagues, and learned all the different ways people knew and were impacted by him. We thought ‘what better way to honor him than by helping others?’”

The Andrew Hoffman Memorial Fund was established in 2018 and has since provided support to the Stark County Hunger Task Force’s Backpack for Kids Program and helped purchase gifts for children in need through A Community Christmas.

“He was a foodie, and he loved kids,” said Ellen. “He would have wanted to help kids in his own community who were hungry.”

The fund will eventually be passed down to Andy’s siblings, Rachel, Christopher and Nicholas, to continue their brother’s legacy of making a difference.

“I love knowing that in 20 years from now, Andy can still be helping people through his memorial fund,” said Bob.

Ellen added, “As much as his fund helps people in our community, it helps us too. It helps us keep his memory alive. I know he would be proud. He would be honored.”

As seen in the 2019-2020 Annual Report.

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