Gerald Lee “Jerry” Hoffman
Gerald Lee “Jerry” Hoffman, 77, originally from Hays, Kansas, died October 2, 2020 in his sleep at his home in Evergreen, Colorado.
He was born August 1, 1943 at home in Hays, the son of John and Agnes (Carlin) Hoffman. He was a graduate of Hays High School in 1961 and a graduate of Fort Hays Kansas State College, earning a B.S. degree in chemistry in 1965 and an M.S. degree in chemistry in 1966. After leaving Hays, he went on to earn a Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 1971 from the University of Hawaii. On September 4, 1971, he married Eva Jernigan in Houston, Texas. He is survived by his wife of 49 years. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Rhode Island, as a research chemist at EPA in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and for the U.S. Geological Survey in the Denver, Colorado area.
While in high school he worked several jobs; doing maintenance work on a motel near the airport, at a bakery shop, and at a gas station. He was a frequent visitor to the old Hays Public Library and ran track. While in college, he worked at the KSU Experiment Station and was well known for dropping in on his sisters at supper time. They figured out easily. He wasn’t exactly subtle. Although he worked hard, he also played hard. His first love was an old car, which he souped up. He and his brother Larry built themselves a boat in the Hays High shop. Then they and a cousin, Gary Feltis, took the boat out to cruise on Big Creek. Jerry was also a founding father of the high school fraternity known as the ‘Old Codgers’. Their secret greeting, not much of a secret, was a pounding on the chest with a cough. It was their sarcastic answer to the ‘Young Turks’, a clique of jocks. By the time they graduated, the ‘Old Codgers’ had risen to prominence, the hippest of the hip.
Jerry was determined to continue his education, but the local draft board had a completely different plan in mind. They classified Jerry 1A even though he had several graduate school offers. Jerry appealed the decision to the state board and they ruled in Jerry’s favor, overruling the local board. This did not go over well. For years afterwards, the local draft board would send Jerry an annual letter. First, they accused Jerry of fleeing the United States by going to the University of Hawaii. By this time, Hawaii had been a state for several years. Then, they wanted him to tell them what made his education special. It seemed that every year, professors at the university would write letters on his behalf. Although he had obvious intellectual capacity and was serious about science, he was well-rounded, well-read, and could get along with most everyone. He looked at life with a sense of humor.
There will be no funeral service. Instead, Jerry’s family and friends are hosting a picnic with fried chicken and the fixings from 12:00 noon until 3:00 pm on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at East Frontier Park in Hays. Just bring your favorite Jerry stories. Jerry will be there in spirit because he lives in our hearts and memories. Condolences and memories of Jerry may be shared with the family at www.haysmemorial.com
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