The Rochester Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
FOR MOM . . .As part of the annual dinner for Rochester athletes and Department of Athletics and Recreation staff, former basketball and soccer standout J. Nelson Hoffman '55, dedicated a plaque in honor of his mother.
Isabel Hill Hoffman was an ardent Yellowjackets fan who never missed one of her son's games as a player from 1950 to 1954 and during his one year as freshman basketball coach in 1955. The plaque will hang in the River Campus athletic complex when its $15 million renovation is completed next year.
Hoffman also remembered a number of his teammates who went from success in athletics to success in business and life, including Bill Secor '53, a stockbroker who founded his own investment firm; John "Doc" Hummel '53, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Bob Place '54, a banking executive with Chase who was a pioneer in the creation of credit cards; the late Jim Armstrong '54, who was a longtime administrator for Alumni Relations; Norman '56 and Nelson Leenhouts '56, who founded and operate a successful real estate company; Roger Lathan '54, vice president emeritus at the University; Bruce Moses '55, CEO of Uarco; and Bill Sharp '53, a well-known surgeon in Ohio.
Here are some of Hoffman's remarks:
In my five years here, from freshman through varsity, and in the fifth year when I coached freshman basketball, my mother never missed a game. In victory and defeat--and there weren't a lot of defeats--Mom cheered us on, at home or on the road. Although I didn't play football, Mom knew all the players, and welcomed them for a little home cooking over Christmas and Easter holidays.
Mom was not an objective observer. She was a real partisan fan. She was a particular critic of referees, umpires, and other officials. Her oral evaluations were delivered loudly and enthusiastically and were based on calls against Rochester. She questioned the judgment and eyesight of any official who called fouls on Yellowjackets.
In retrospect, she fulfilled her dreams vicariously through my successes and failures--a small reward for the big financial sacrifices made to provide me with a world-class education.
So in the spirit of remembering not just my mother, but all the parents who have scrimped, saved, and sacrificed to provide their sons and daughters with a Rochester education, I am happy to be able to help with the reconstruction of the facilities, and sponsor a memorial to my mother. . . .
I have two requests to make of you. When you graduate, make regular giving a habit. The second request: Replace yourself. By that I mean, go back to your high school, to the summer leagues you play in, and recruit the bright, athletically gifted students you meet there. If you look at the best practices of leaders in academic and athletic excellence, you will find that "Replace yourself" is their formula for success.
J. Nelson Hoffman '55
Copyright 1999, University of Rochester