On Dec. 30th, 2020, Ralph O. Hoffman “Rustie” passed away from pneumonia at Norwich Hospital. His life started out of humble beginnings on Sept. 30, 1924.
Rustie is the second of three children born to Jesse and Nellie Hoffman. His older brother Carlyle and younger sister Jean predeceased him. Rustie married C. Jane Worden on Sept. 21, 1946, who predeceased him on Aug. 28, 2000. Rustie and Jane had three children: Jan who is married to Gerri Pinner, Jon who is married to Linda Felicetti, and Linda who is married to Charles Gietz II. Grandchildren are Stacey, Kelly and Christopher (children of Jan and Gerri), Jon Michael and David (children of Jon and Linda). Great-grandchildren include Brittany and Mary Kate (children of Stacey and former spouses), Brooke (child of Peter and Kelly Besic), Natalie and Madison (children of Jon Michael and Nicole), Alyssa, Mason, and Logan (children of David and Emma), and great-great grandson Liam (son of Brittany and her former husband).
As mentioned Rustie’s beginnings were humble but that never stopped him from taking care of others. He made sure his sister had a class ring as a teenager and his Mom and Dad had what they needed as well. Rustie served in World War II at age 17. He traveled to Italy with his brother on the same Liberty Ship and after the war traveled home with his brother again on the same ship. Rustie spent the war in Naples, his brother in Sicily. While in Naples he was able to go up in a bomber and watch Vesuvius erupt. Coming home to Walton after the war, he went back to school and finished his senior year, then married Jane. The young couple had Jan and 13 months later, Jon. Rustie joined the New York State Electric and Gas as a lineman. Settling into married life they bought their first house at 9 Fair Street. In December of 1952, Linda came along. In 1957 he decided to move his young family to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., renting O.W. and Jane Breakey’s new house. Jane was not happy about the move, but by the time he decided to move us back to Walton a year and a half later, Jane was looking for a house to buy in Fort Lauderdale, but Rustie missed the seasons and Walton. Luckily, they had rented their Walton house so we were able to move back in.
Rustie kept busy working his regular job and “moonlighting” with Ken Perkins and Billie Thompson doing plumbing, heating, and electrical work after supper and on weekends. They kept the laundromat belonging to Ray Baldi up and running, and many of their fellow Waltonians’ appliances and lighting fixtures working efficiently. Oftentimes his faithful Labrador retriever, Dutchess, napped in his truck while waiting for her master. Only one time did her patience wear out and she chewed his wool CPO shirt to pieces.
Rustie loved to hunt. He went deer hunting every year at the Carcass Brook hunting camp. Not many years went by without him getting a deer, then we were subjected to eating venison. Each year the hunting camp had an annual all-day cookout, with homemade rolls and sausages for breakfast and t-bone steaks for dinner. The wives brought the side dishes and each year Jane brought homemade German chocolate cake. One year Rustie brought Dutchess along. It was the only time in her life she just could not eat anything more, as everyone was giving her their steak bones. She got so full she wound up stacking them in the bed of Rustie’s truck. Rustie went on other hunting expeditions as well, elk hunting in Wyoming and duck hunting in Saskatchewan. For the duck hunting trip he and two friends and his trusty retriever brought in over 300 ducks, which they gave to the local Indians who were desperately poor. He wasn’t much of a fisherman, but we don’t know why - the first time he went deep sea fishing in Florida he brought in two sailfish! On a trip to Alaska he went halibut fishing and caught one. He had it processed and sent some to each of us, later saying he could have taken us all out to dinner a couple of times for the cost of the processing and shipping. When he wasn’t working or watching Sunday afternoon football he liked to take classes at BOCES. He took the welding classes so many times, he was asked to teach it. At age 44 he came home and announced he was taking a class but would not say what it was because it was very hard and he was not sure if he would pass. The cat was let out of the bag when one Friday there was a telephone message saying his flight lesson was canceled! He got his pilot’s license, and rebuilt his airplane from the frame out in his basement.
Rustie and Jane made a trip to Hawaii when Jan, Gerri and the kids were stationed there and they even traveled to Guam to see them. They loved Hawaii and spent up to a month at a time there. Once they retired they bought a motor home and their first trip was to Alaska. They took Bill and Thelma Hammond along with them. Bill shared the driving with Rustie. After the Alaska trip they went to Florida with their beautiful golden retriever, Ginger, spent a couple of weeks with Jan and Gerri in the Panhandle, then it was on to Patrick Air Force Base to spend the rest of the winter.
Rustie liked to be busy. In his last year of eligibility he joined the National Guard and never ever did he complain about weekend guard duty or spending two weeks each summer at Fort Drum for annual training.
To each of us he has passed along a trait of his: Jan his love for the military. Jan retired after 26 years in the Air Force and still works for it. Jon got his knowledge and his responsible middle child role; Linda got his confidence. His granddaughter Stacey got his wanderlust, Kelly his love of family, Chris got his imagination. Jon Michael got his love for being busy and ability to fix most things electrical, plumbing or heating related, and David, well, David is his clone. Rustie, we all love you and will miss you like crazy, but you know that, and we are so glad that you do. So glad you get to be with Mom again.
There will be no calling hours. Interment will be held in late spring or early summer depending on travel arrangements.
A special thank you to the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford. Each of us wants you to know how much we appreciate the quality of care and the kindness you showed our Dad and Grandfather.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Courtney Funeral Home, Walton. To leave a message for Ralph’s family, visit his online tribute at www.courtneyfh.com.