1927 - 2020
Henry (Harry) T. Hoffman III died on Wednesday (May 20, 2020) at home in his sleep. He was 92.
He was born October 28, 1927, in Brooklyn, the son of Henry Theodore Hoffman Jr. and Alice Audley (White) Hoffman. He served in Japan with the 11th Airborne Division as a paratrooper. He graduated from Colgate University in 1950. He married Norma Jean Olson in 1951, and they raised three children.
He had a long and varied career. He served as an FBI Agent from 1951 to 1954; joined Procter & Gamble in 1954; joined Bell & Howell in 1961; and became President of Demco, a library and school supply company, in 1967.
He was hired by Bronson Ingram in 1968 to run the Tennessee Book Depository in Nashville, TN, which supplied books to libraries and schools. Federal funding for libraries and schools was being cut back, and he decided to put the warehouse full of books to use by selling directly to stores as Ingram Book Company. He developed the company into the first successful, and largest, book wholesaler in the world, and it became the flagship of Ingram Industries. He used innovative practices to ship books to stores anywhere in the U.S. in three to four days, in contrast with the industry average of 14 to 20 days. He was a founder of the American Booksellers Association, and he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ingram Book Company for ten years.
In 1978 he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Waldenbooks, the largest chain of bookstores in the country. Having influenced wholesaling in a transformative way, he influenced retailing with aggressive marketing and innovation. During his time as C.E.O. the company's sales quadrupled, and it grew from just over 500 stores to almost 1300.
He retired in 1991 to pursue his passions, sailing and golf. He lived for several years in the U.S. Virgin Islands, cruising the Caribbean in a sailboat. He moved to Florida in 1999 to live in a golf course community.
Harry is survived by his beloved wife Kathie Petersen Hoffman; his three children, Jan Keeling, Harry Hoffman, and Lori Palermo; five grandchildren, Kathryn (Kate) Barske, Kelly Marksbury, David Smolker, Harry Smolker, and Kurt Smolker; and five great-grandchildren, Ella and Sam Barske, Jonah and Finn Smolker, and Simon Smolker-Astemborski.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Room to Read, 465 California St. Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94104, or https://www.roomtoread.org/
Published in New York Times from May 24 to May 25, 2020.