John Brooks Hoffman: Former Chairman of the Dept of OB/GYN in Greenwich Hospital

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John Brooks Hoffman, M.D. passed away on Thursday, June 11, 2015 about 1:50 P.M. from cardiac arrest. Born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1918, son of John and Eva Brooks Hoffmann. His father dropped the second “n” from the family name during World War I. Because he shared his first name with his father, he was always called “Brooks”, or “J. Brooks”.

He attended Rahway High School for two years; then transferred to Blair Academy. At Blair Academy, he participated in many activities. He graduated in 1936 with a first prize in American History. He attended Williams College from which he received a BA degree. He was accepted in medical school by Columbia, University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He graduated in 1943 with a M.D. degree. Then he went on active duty in the U.S. Army Medical Corp. He served just over two years in World War II and was discharged as a Captain. He returned to New York, where he served three and one-half years of residency training.

In December 1942 during a black out in New York City (it was wartime), he ran into Jane Helwig, a student nurse at Presbyterian Hospital. His mind was made up at that point. It took a long time before Jane would say “yes,” but two and one-half years later, they were married on June 14th, Flag Day, in 1945. He is survived by five children: Nancy Lee of Seattle, WA; Susan Jane of Malvern, PA; Deborah Anne of Villanova, PA; J. Brooks, Jr. of West Barnstable, MA; and Peter Kincaid of Fairfield, CT, seven grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

He came to Greenwich in 1950, where he opened his office to practice his specialty. By 1953 (earliest date possible), he passed his written and oral boards in his specialty. He was the first doctor in Greenwich with American boards in his specialty. He subsequently became a Fellow in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Also, he received a Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons. He was a Diplomate of the National Board. He eventually became Chairman of the Department of OB/GYN in Greenwich Hospital. He retired in 1985 and was awarded an Emeritus staff position in the hospital.

During his long life in Greenwich, he was active in many activities in the town. Former President of the Greenwich Medical Society, Ruling Elder of the First Presbyterian Church, former Trustee of the Greenwich Country Day School, former member of the American Red Cross Board, longtime member of the Family Center, the Community Chest (now known as United Way), former member of the State Board of the American Cancer Society, former member of the State Board of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, former consultant to the Greenwich Health Association, former Honorary Trustee of the Greenwich Historical Society, and former member of the Round Hill Club. He played with a handicap as low as nine, but more often with a handicap of 12.

He had a hole-in-one on the 17th hole (he also had a hole-in-one in San Francisco). In the early 60’s, he won the Magruder Dent Trophy at Round Hill.

He was the oldest member of the Preston Mountain Club in Kent, Connecticut. He was a trout fisherman from the age of seven; he was taught by his father. Salmon fishing was also a must for him. He took his wife fishing on their honeymoon. Jane followed him everywhere to fish and became quite good at it herself.

He joined the Nutmeggers, a private organization of prominent men in Greenwich, in 1957. He became very active in the group and was elected President for one term. In 1961, he was elected into the Continental Gynecologic Society. He wrote professional papers which were published, and in 1975, he was elected President for one term.

In 1991, he was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Greenwich Boy Scouts at a large testimonial dinner at the Hyatt Hotel. He was Co-chairman of the “Greenwich 350 Celebration”, a year- long party in 1990, to celebrate the Town’s 350th year.
His father had been a collector of autographs and old documents. From him, Brooks grew to be a collector of Early Americana of some note. He was a good friend of Mary Benjamin, the doyenne of all autograph dealers. He was especially proud of his collection of presidential autographs (while they were in office). He gave over 300 articles of Early Americana to the Chapin Library at Williams, and helped with the purchase of the Declaration of Independence and also donated the first British answer to the Declaration.

He established a fund at the Chapin Library for the benefit of his Americana collection. Williams had a special exhibit of about 20 percent of his collection at the Chapin Library in the fall of 2005.

Blair Academy was also given many valuable pieces of Americana. His long period of 67 years to Blair Academy will be remembered by all who had any association with Blair. He was a Trustee for over 45 years, during which he served as Chairman of the Board for 16 years and 10 years as Chairman of the Executive Committee. He endowed a chair in American History; the infirmary at the school was given his name. In 1993, the school awarded him a Citation of Merit and an Emeritus position on staff.
In honor of his wife, he established a scholarship at the Columbia University School of Nursing.

He used to say that he played a significant role in the delivery of over 3500 babies. (He did not deliver the babies, the mothers did that!) He also did over 2500 surgical procedures in his career, and finally he loved to say that he tried to play a supporting role in the raising of five children with Jane.

Service will be held in the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, at 11:00am on Saturday September 12, 2015. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich One West Putnam Ave. Greenwich, CT 06830 or a charity of your choice will be appreciated.