Replenishing the fount of knowledge
The Great Depression taught valuable lessons to those who lived through it: resilience, determination, frugality, appreciation. For 1967 UD graduates Larry Hoffman and Sue Stephan Hoffman, it also taught them the importance of a good education.
“We were blue collar kids brought up after the Depression and World War II,” Larry said. “Nothing was more important than getting an education and job in order to better your plight in life and contribute to society.”
Larry worked as a newspaper carrier to pay his way through Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio, and earned a $500 scholarship from the Evening Independent to attend UD. Sue worked at St. Elizabeth Hospital and the University of Dayton Research Institute to help pay her tuition. Larry also received a $40 per month stipend for being enrolled in ROTC his junior and senior years.
“We both graduated without any debt,” Sue says proudly. They married shortly after graduation and both taught school in Dayton until Larry was called to serve in the U.S. Army. For the next 25 years, the military sent them all over the country, Sue teaching in elementary schools. They said they both took the UD call to learn, lead and serve wherever they went.
After Larry retired from the military, they returned to Dayton where Larry worked for Battelle Memorial Institute until he retired in 2005, and Sue taught language arts and social studies at St. Helen Catholic School for 22 years.
“Sue was never able to get grades high enough to get out of middle school,” Larry affectionately jokes.
Grateful to the institution they credit for bringing them together and providing the education and values that would be the foundation for a happy, successful life, they have established the Larry and Sue Hoffman Scholarship.
“We feel that it is necessary, morally correct and obligatory that we give back in order to ensure continued growth of our wonderful University by providing for students following the path to become educators — preferably with a concentration in mathematics. We have been so blessed and want to help others be able to drink from the proverbial fount of knowledge UD provides,” they said.
The $400,000 bequest, plus an $80,000 seed gift, will provide two, $5,000 scholarships per year for any qualified junior or senior enrolled in the School of Education and Health Sciences. It is the latest gift from the couple who began saying “yes” with $50 pledges when students from Telefund called to ask for donations. The Hoffmans have been consistent givers for more than three decades and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
“We have always acknowledged our debt to the University and have religiously supported it with annual donations,” Sue said, “but at this time felt we needed to do more for the current student body. We believe in the high caliber of UD students and want to provide them with the same opportunities we had to show the world how outstanding they can be and contribute to the betterment of today’s society.”