August 31, 2006
HOWARD S. HOFFMAN, 81, OF HAVERFORD, PA
Member of "the greatest generation."
Howard S. Hoffman, 81, emeritus professor of experimental psychology at Bryn Mawr College, formerly of Wynnewood, PA., died August 31, 2006 of kidney failure at the Quadrangle in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He was born May 23rd, 1925 in New York, New York.
Dr. Hoffman earned an international reputation for his scientific work in experimental psychology, most notably in imprinting, studies of the startle reflex, and on human memory.
Hoffman identified the phenomenon of "pre-pulse inhibition," now used extensively in schizophrenia research. Over his long career, he authored and co-authored hundreds of scientific papers on imprinting and learning. His book about his experiences as a scientist, "Amorous Turkeys and Addicted Ducklings: A Search for the Causes of Social Attachment," is currently being translated into Japanese.
After he retired formally from teaching, he and his son Russell created a computerized version of his statistics course, which he had taught for nearly 50 years. STATISTICS EXPLAINED is now part of the Math Advantage 2007 line of educational software. Both father and son recently stated that working on that project was "the greatest thing in our lives." They were working part-time on a second project when the elder Hoffman took ill.
During World War II, Hoffman fought as a mortar crewman and forward observer in Italy, France, and Germany. He earned five bronze stars and two invasion arrowheads.
In December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, Hoffman's unit took part in the relief of Bastogne, a key transportation hub where Major General A. C. McAuliffe had responded with the single word "Nuts!" when a German commander demanded that he surrender the besieged village.
During the liberation of Germany, Hoffman witnessed first-hand some of the atrocities that had been committed by the Nazis.
In the late 1980s, Howard Hoffman and his wife Dr. Alice M. Hoffman co-authored a book about memory called "Archives of Memory: A Soldier Recalls World War II."
Both Howard and Alice have been involved in numerous peace movements ever since they met.
In addition to being a scientist, Hoffman enjoyed painting, drawing, and playing folk and Flamenco guitar. In retirement, Hoffman painted hundreds of portraits and whimsical watercolors and had many gallery showings.
Hoffman is survived by his wife of 45 years, Alice Hoffman (nee Cruikshank), and by two brothers, Tim Hoffman and Francis Hoffman. He was pre-deceased by his son Randall Hoffman. His surviving children are Gwen Russell Harvey, Russell Hoffman, Franklin Russell, Daniel Hoffman and Martha Hoffman Ingel. He is also survived by nine grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Merion Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in November 2006. Memorial donations may be made to The American Friends Service Committee at 1515 Cherry St. Philadelphia, PA. 19101.