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Sarah Pearsall

Hoffman Main

Ronald Hoffman was the longest serving director of the Omohundro Institute.

Below are remembrance from colleagues. To share a remembrance of Ron, please contact Martha Howard (mxhowa@wm.edu).

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Ron Hoffman memories

Sarah Pearsall


I’m heartbroken at the passing of Ron Hoffman, who was an exceptional mentor to me and many of us.  He and Sally were also dear, dear friends over the years. There are many stories I could share of his generosity, patience, smarts, humor, and wonderful bonhomie.  But three can perhaps stand in for the rest.  The first was when Ron organized a meeting on my first book, inviting many of the Omohundro Institute folks as well as the late Rhys Isaac.  That was an amazingly helpful conversation, and it made the book so much better.   He and Sally believed in that project and the author even when the author did not; this meant so much.  The second was at the AHA in 2014 when I got food poisoning.  In my typical gutsball-through-manner, I nevertheless teetered out in high heels to join the panel with Karin Wulf as well as former OIEAHC fellows Brett Rushforth and Dan Livesay.  I was literally swaying slightly holding on to the podium as I gave my paper.  Everyone was nice about it.  However, only Ron noticed my increasingly ashen look and quietly slipped out, returning at the end of the panel with a hot water bottle he had gone to find at a nearby drugstore.  The third was when he and Sally came to dinner at our house in Oxford years and years ago.  Ron and I realized in conversation that our non-Jewish partners had imagined that gefilte fish was an actual species of fish.  Ron and I so enjoyed imagining the documentary one could make about gefilte fish in the wild. I only wish I had been able to say a goodbye to him properly. Still, I raise a scalding hot chocolate to you, Ron: scholar, teacher, mentor, beloved friend, and mensch.