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Eric Hoffman, Former Hoffman Construction President, Dies at 93

Fri December 30, 2016 - National Edition
Mike Rogoway

Son of the company's founder, Eric Hoffman led its shift into commercial building and directed its transition to employee ownership.
Son of the company's founder, Eric Hoffman led its shift into commercial building and directed its transition to employee ownership.

Eric Hoffman, whose Portland construction company built many of the city's best-known buildings, died Dec. 27 at age 93.

Founded by his father L.H. Hoffman in 1922, Hoffman Construction built Memorial Coliseum, the Wells Fargo Center, the Oregon Convention Center and the Fox Tower. Eric Hoffman ran the business from 1965 until 1974 and was chairman for years afterward.

Eric Hoffman attended Stanford University, interrupting his studies during World War II to serve in the U.S. Army. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, according to his family. He received the Purple Heart, awarded to those injured in combat, after being wounded by shrapnel late in 1944.

Wayne Drinkward, Hoffman Construction's current president, said that in the late 1960s Eric Hoffman shifted the business from its roots serving the paper and forest products industry to focus on the more promising commercial construction market. Hoffman eventually gave up his executive role, according to Drinkward, hiring new managers with experience in that space.

"It takes quite a bit to step back and bring people in who complement you," Drinkward said.

In 1992, Drinkward said, Eric Hoffman directed that the company shift from family control to employee ownership, a structure that remains in place today.

"He felt the employees earned it," Drinkward said. "He saw it in the long-term as a way the company could continue."

Eric Hoffman served on the board of the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Health and Science University. He was a past president of the University Club and the Arlington Club.

His wife, Ronnie Hoffman, said he died following a five-year fight with bone cancer.

Other survivors include daughter Joan Hoffman, daughter Susan Hoffman and her partner Fred Trullinger, daughter Sally Hoffman Miller and her husband Peter, and son Eric Hoffman and his wife Jan. Other survivors include four stepchildren, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The family plans a celebration of his life at noon, January 4 at Waverly Country Club. They suggest memorial donations to the OHSU Cardiology Institute, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the Oregon Historical Society, or the Portland Art Museum.

Source: The Oregonian

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