Lynn Hoffman

Obituary
  • "I have a photo of Lynn and myself beside my bed at this..."
    - Jo Kennedy
  • "Thinking of Lynn Hoffman and the Worlds She Continues to..."
    - Chris Kinman
  • "I met Lynn when I was in my late twenties, when I was the ..."
    - Norma Akanatsu
  • "I will miss hearing all the stories of our dear Lynn-- how..."
    - Chris Behan
  • "Thinking of Lynn Hoffman and the Worlds She Continues to..."
    - Chris Kinman

Lynn Hoffman, one of the pioneers in the field of family therapy and the most lyric chronicler of its evolution, died peacefully of pneumonia Dec. 21, 2017, at the age of 93, in the arms of her beloved partner (the 92 year old "love of her life"), Edward McAvoy, a former New York Times distribution manager.

Born Grace Lynn Baker in Paris, 1924, she was the first of three daughters of Donald Baker and Ruth Reeves, a groundbreaking textile artist and co-creator of the American Index of Design. She was raised in New City, New York, among a community of artists, attended the Dalton School in New York City on scholarship, and went on to graduate Radcliffe College, Magna Cum Laude, in 1946, first in her class.

Many years later, she earned a Master's Degree in Social Work at Adelphi University, then practiced and taught at institutions and programs too numerous to mention. Lynn had been married to the late Theodore Hoffman, founder of the NYU Theatre department with whom she had three daughters, who survive her: Martha, Joanna, and Livia Hoffman. Lynn was predeceased by her two sisters, Duny Katzman and Virginia Lehran.

Over the years, Lynn authored and co-authored many books, among them the seminal "Foundations of Family Therapy" (1981), and lastly, "Family Therapy, An Intimate History" (2001). She was the author of scores of influential journal articles most notable for their singular voice and the clarity with which she explained the complex postmodern ideas reshaping the field, and, indeed, the intellectual horizon. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy presented her its "Lifetime Achievement Award." She is the subject of the film, "All Manner of Poetic Disobedience," produced by one of her league of friends and admirers, which includes interviews with many of her colleagues around the world. It can be seen on YouTube.

As a teacher, both at formal institutions in the US and at conferences and seminars around the world, she was an inspiring, sought after presence. With her brilliance, her exceptional kindness, and her surprising, often transgressive sense of humor, she connected with her audience (one or a thousand) in ways not easily forgotten. The field of family therapy, along with her family, her colleagues, and the students she mentored so generously, mourn the loss of one of the last of the great pioneering luminaries.

In the words of a friend and colleague: "Lynn was an artistic and literate spirit, she reached out to us with the lightest touch. Her thinking was free and original. She breathed poetry into our concerns and lightened what was otherwise painful, mundane or ordinary." As those who cared for Lynn at the end attest, it was only her body that failed, never her spirit or her mind. May you rest in peace, Lynn, and may your memory be a blessing for all who were graced by your touch

A memorial gathering will be held in June. For more information please contact Judy Davis at 413-530-3998.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 6, 2018