William H. Hoffman, engineer

ScienceFood and Drug AdministrationEllicott CityOwings Mills (Baltimore, Maryland)Bethlehem Steel Corp.National Institutes of Health

William H. Hoffman, a retired U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, died Monday from septic shock after kidney transplant surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The longtime Ellicott City resident was 81.

William Harry Hoffman was born in Baltimore and raised on East Lanvale Street and his grandfather's Owings Mills farm.

After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1950, he worked briefly as a carpenter's assistant and as a draftsman at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant, while attending the Johns Hopkins University at night. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Hopkins in 1960.

He also drove a Diamond taxi during those years to earn extra money to help support his growing family.

From 1963 to 1967, he was a mechanical engineer for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. He then joined Voice of America, where he was assigned to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, helping to build a new radio transmitter for broadcasting into China.

He worked for the Army Corps of Engineers for a year in Germany before joining the Food and Drug Administration, where he rose to become chief of the mechanical engineering branch for facilities.

Mr. Hoffman specialized in procuring and developing FDA laboratory spaces across the nation. He also led the consolidation of FDA facilities in the Washington area and the design and development of the FDA's Mod 1 facility in Greenbelt.

A resident of Columbia for the past six months, Mr. Hoffman was an avid opera fan and supported the Metropolitan and Washington opera companies. He also enjoyed playing golf.

His wife of 48 years, the former Eve Benesch, died in 1999.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Harry H. Witzke Funeral Home, 4112 Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City.

Mr. Hoffman is survived by a son, Harry J. Hoffman of Ellicott City; two daughters, Claire E. Hoffman of West River and Kay H. Gold of Rockville; a brother, Hollen Hoffman of Ellicott City; five sisters, Eleanor Kerpelman of Baltimore, Cornelia Reese of Westminster, Margaret Roberts of Woodlawn, Charlotte Coates of Elkridge and Dorothea Rushworth of Syracuse, N.Y.; and three grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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