Jeanne Hofmann, 86, town employee

Jeanne Meskill Hofmann, town employee for more than three decades, died peacefully on September 24 at McCall Hospice House in Simpsonville, SC after suffering a head injury.  She was 86 years old.

Born on November 14, 1927, Jeanne was the daughter of John and Mary Meskill.  She grew up in the Boston area, where she graduated from Emmanuel College.   In her twenties she worked in New York City, where she worked in human resources for the Rockefeller Institute and Booz Allen and Hamilton and shared an apartment with a friend named Mary Ann Wallace.   After returning to the Boston area to work as human resources director for Baird Atomic Company, Jeanne visited Ridgefield many times to visit Mary Ann, who had married Bill Hogan, a local orthodontist.  It was on one of these visits that Mary Ann introduced Jeanne to Charlie Hofmann, an advertising executive, widower and father of a toddler and two teenagers.  After meeting Charlie, Jeanne’s trips to Ridgefield became much more frequent, and within six months a wedding was planned for June of 1965.  Upon hearing this news, Mary Ann, ever a true friend, looked at Jeanne and said, “Are you out of your mind?”

Sanely or otherwise, the wedding went off as planned, with toddler Gretchen serving as flower girl, 13-year old Charles as best man, and 16-year old Susanna as maid of honor.  Suddenly career-girl Jeanne became a full-time housewife and stepmother.  Strengthened by rock-solid religious faith and an ability to see good in all situations, Jeanne managed to bond with Gretchen despite the toddler’s initial rejection and demands of “When are you going back to Boston!”  She also learned to cook, despite the fact that teenaged Charles continually devoured the entire contents of the refrigerator.  And she managed to remain not only civil but patient despite the fact that Susanna barely spoke to her for the next several years.  Over time, Jeanne adopted Gretchen and the family unit strengthened.  After her husband Charlie’s death, Jeanne was matriarch, mainstay and home base for now-adult children who had suffered – and with her help had overcome – the devastating loss of their mother.

When Gretchen started first grade, Jeanne went back to work, initially taking a part-time clerical position in Town Hall for the Town of Ridgefield.  Over the years, she would work under the leadership of six first selectmen: Joe McLinden, Lou Fossi, Liz Leonard, Sue Manning, Abe Morelli and Rudy Marconi.  Her hours and responsibilities increased along the way.  Recognizing her experience and abilities, Liz Leonard promoted Jeanne to personnel director, a position she held until her retirement.  She absolutely loved working and loved the town employees even more.  As her friend and colleague Annie Buccitti recently said, “She has been a good friend to me and many at Town Hall.  She was helpful to the employees and always kept in mind their best interests.”

Several years ago, agreeing that “it was time,” Jeanne moved near Gretchen to a continuing care retirement community in Winter Park, Florida, a move that was to last less than a year.  Desperately homesick for Ridgefield, Jeanne informed her children in no uncertain terms that she was “a New England girl” and moved back to her beloved Ridgefield.

Jeanne is survived by her daughter Gretchen Hofmann of Maitland, FL, stepdaughter Susanna Hofmann McShea or Greenville, SC, stepson Charles John Hofmann of Jacksonville, FL, a brother Jack Meskill of Yarmouthport, MA, a sister Sue Hlousek of Denver, CO, a sister, Mary McHugh of West Dennis, MA, two grandchildren, and nine nieces and nephews.

The loves of Jeanne’s life were the Catholic Church, her family, and Ridgefield.  A funeral mass in her memory will be celebrated at 10:15 a.m. on November 15, the day after her birthday, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Ridgefield.  In lieu of flowers, Susanna, Charles and Gretchen request that donations may be made in Jeanne Hofmann’s memory to St. Mary School, 183 High Ridge Avenue, Ridgefield, CT 06877.