HOMEWOOD | He may have spent his final years in retirement in Florida, but a piece of Manny Hoffman’s spirit was always in the south suburbs and not just because Center Street was renamed Manny Hoffman Way.
Hoffman, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, was Homewood. On Wednesday, he died in his sleep at his home near Sarasota. Hoffman’s wife preceded him in death. He is survived by a son, Larry, two daughters, Debbie and Julie, and a grandson.
A memorial service will take place Friday in Miami, with a service to be held in the south suburbs some time this spring although officials at Homewood Village Hall were unsure Thursday when or where that would occur.
Hoffman, who last week turned 76, served as village president from 1985 to 1991, a post he gave up in 1991 to serve a two-year term in the Illinois House of Representatives, according to the village of Homewood. Hoffman also served eight years as a village trustee, and previously was president of the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District for six years. He was inducted into the Homewood Hall of Fame in 2008.
When Hoffman lost a bid for re-election to the Illinois House, then-Gov. Jim Edgar named him in 1993 to the Illinois Labor Relations Board where he served for eight years and ultimately became chairman under then-Gov. George Ryan, according to the website www.ourcampaigns.com.
The one-time head of the Cook County Republican Party also made one electoral bid for Congress in 1990, losing to then-incumbent Rep. George Sangmeister, of Mokena, in the general election.
But Hoffman’s life was more than political. He was the longtime operator of Manny Hoffman State Farm Insurance Agency, where he was successful enough that he became a lifetime member of the State Farm President’s Club, which consists of the company’s top 50 agents across the nation.
Current Homewood Village President Rich Hofeld said that upon leaving local politics, Hoffman remained active in the Homewood business community, particularly through his work with the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce.
“Even after he wasn’t in government, he remained active in the community in trying to keep it strong,” Hofeld said.
Tom Luscombe, who took over the Homewood-based agency upon Hoffman’s retirement, said Manny has not been easy to replace.
“Manny was a State Farm agent legend,” Luscombe said. “Manny built one of the largest State Farm agent books in the state of Illinois,” while also calling him, “the ultimate promoter, marketer and salesman.”
Hoffman’s professional life also included a stint early on when he was a salesman for WJOB-AM in Hammond. Luscombe recalled a time when Hoffman arranged for a Halloween promotion at an Indiana-based cemetery.
“The turnout was insane, and it backed up traffic for miles the night of Halloween,” Luscombe said. “State troopers had to be called in from 45 miles to clear traffic.”