Henry T. "Harry" Hoffman
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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/

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from May 24 to May 25, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Jan Keeling
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13 entries
May 31, 2020
Thinking about my first boss and mentor, Harry Hoffman. He was President and CEO of Waldenbooks and I was his young and eager Executive Asst. back in Stamford, CT. Little did I know that the lessons he was teaching me then about keeping the client first, staying true to what you do best, and always putting everything you have into what you stand for and believe in would guide me to this day. He was a marketing genius, and changed the way booksellers, writers and publishers came together in the interests of the industry. It was forever changed largely due to his influence. He took Waldenbooks to the pinnacle of success. I was there to watch it happen. Harry, wherever you are, just know that there is someone you mattered to in your teachings and for me class is still in session! I regret not telling you this long ago. Godspeed.
Pamela M Iacovo
Coworker
May 30, 2020
Harry Hoffman, our beloved, innovative leader as CEO of Waldenbooks, was also charismatic, kind, interesting, fair, brilliant, warm, approachable, friendly and was responsible for a dynamic, energizing environment where achievement was possible.
I have many fond memories of Harry and Im grateful to have known him!
Rest In Peace, Harry.
Mimi Hodgkins
Coworker
May 30, 2020
Harry Hoffman, our beloved, innovative leader as CEO of Waldenbooks, was also charismatic, kind, interesting, fair, brilliant, warm, approachable, friendly and was responsible for a dynamic, energizing environment where achievement was possible.
I have many fond memories of Harry and Im grateful to have known him!
Rest In Peace, Harry.
Mimi
Coworker
May 29, 2020
Henry was a great man Waldenbooks was my first real job love working for him a very fair man
Adelaida Nieves
Coworker
May 29, 2020
remember Harry so vividly as a force of nature in book retail at a time that I was embarking on my publishing career in the early '80s. I looked forward to the annual Walden marketing presentation with a combination of awe and fear. I knew our publisher wallets would be a little lighter by the end of the day! Rest in peace, Harry.
Jack McKeown
Acquaintance
May 28, 2020
I remember him at Waldenbooks, he was so down to earth. He would eat lunch with all of us, and would say hi all the time by first name. I remember him getting into his Jaguar and I would smile him being so tall and it was a small car. I got to drive his cars when it had to be service.
Nelly
Coworker
May 28, 2020
I worked at Waldenbooks HQ as my first job out of college in security. I greeted Harry and sometimes his lovely wife every morning. Harry was so down to earth, genuinely nice and funny. He treated every person the same. I also say this about his wife. He was beloved by all of us lucky to have met him. My deepest condolences to his wife and entire family.
Carol Forkiotis
Coworker
May 28, 2020
I always loved to see him come in the morning. He was so handsome and his smile was such a happy smile. I think he was a gentle giant he cared about Ingram and all the associates. It was a pleasure to be at Ingram when Big Harry was there. I think he was one of greatest leader we had. Condolences to his family and friends.
Diana Holden-Riggs
Coworker
May 28, 2020
In the mid-80s I was a Waldenbooks store manager and applied for a job in the corporate office where I met Harry during the interview process. He was charismatic, charming, tall, and had the gift of being able to put people at ease, we spoke for a while and I got the job. He was a tough but fair visionary boss and I respect him to this day, he will be missed. Condolences to his family.
Gail Whitten
Coworker
May 26, 2020
In my first job out of college I worked for Ingram Book, this was 1976. I remember Mr Hoffman as a great leader. He was always smiling and so very kind. Condolences to his family.
Sharon Fields
Coworker
May 26, 2020
He was quite the boss.. so charismatic . We all were kinda sad when he was traveling because he always lit up the room when he would walk through our departments. When he left Ingram we thought the world in our company would never be the same and we were right.. there was nobody like Harry.. RIP my friend and mentor..
Close Suzanne
Coworker
May 26, 2020
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Suzanne Close
May 24, 2020
Most of all, I will miss talking to him. He was a kind, generous, and loving father.
Jan Alice Hoffman Keeling
Daughter
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