CAUG Digital Camera SIG Co-Leader 2002-2007
A Celebration Of Life
After a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer, SIG Co-Leader John Hoffmann passed away on December 6, 2007. John's staunch leadership, gentle sense of humor and love of life were expressed through his lens, and honored by his friends and family.
How do you say goodbye to a good friend and a great co-leader? You don't, really. Even as ill as John was during his last two years with us, through the difficult struggle he faced and the harsh chemo he endured with the reappearance of lung cancer, and his ultimate all-too-soon passing on December 6th, John still managed to make nearly all of our meetings and stayed active with us through email and the telephone almost right to the very end. And therefore, I can't say goodbye. Because he's still not really far from us. His spirit goes on, in our hearts and our minds. And so he's not really completely gone. Growing up in a military lifestyle (one John also knew well), we never say goodbye. Military folks always say "see you later" because in military life, you never knew when you'd run into one another again at a new duty station, but it was almost always certain that you would.
Actually, John and I have already talked a few times since his passing. The first conversation came a few days before his memorial service, when I was still working feverishly on the presentation for his memorial service reception, showcasing his legacy of photography with our Digital Camera SIG. I'd had to gather and then sift through more than a thousand of John's photos from the DigiCam SIG. I'd finally gotten it down to the best 190 shots during one late night session, but then, I hit that proverbial wall. I just couldn't get the right flavor to the words and intros I wanted to put in the show. I finally got up, popped open a beer; a nice German ale I thought John would've enjoyed. I sat down, hoisted that beer in the air, told John this beer was for him, and to get himself down here *NOW* and help me get the darned show finished! I told him I was stuck, and I needed his help. I leaned back, took a few sips of beer, waiting for John to kick my muse into action, and smiled at one of the photos I'd just run across of John -- toting his portable oxygen along on one field trip -- O2 in one hand; a cold beer in the other, with his ever-present Nikon digital SLR camera rig around his neck. That was so John! Never letting a little thing like being tied to an oxygen bottle get in the way of a fun outing with friends. After one more admonition to John to get a move on with his help, because his memorial service was only two days away and I hadn't even started on the music yet, the words finally started to come. John had come to help, all right, all the while most likely laughing his ethereal head off at me and all the fuss he so hated being made over him. But like I told him before he died, tough cookies, my friend; we love you, so you just have to deal with all the fuss.
John and I will no doubt have another beer together soon, and we'll talk over what the group will do at the January 2008 DigiCam SIG, our first meeting without him in this plane of existence. John won't be far away. After all, with nearly five years under his belt as co-leader of the SIG, he's left us a terrific lasting legacy. His support; his unwavering resolve to keep us on track no matter what tangents we tried to tear off on; his sense of humor; his generosity in sharing his time and resources to prepare and share lessons on photographic techniques and tricks he'd come across; his always-positive can-do attitude -- John provided steady and firm leadership to our group. Most of all, I'll always remember that big, gentle, shy, quiet man and his ever-present enigmatic half smile as he would look around our group each month, and laugh with us at the joy we all found in sharing our accomplishments with each other. John was, and still remains, an inspiration to us all, and he will always be a member of our group. See you later, my friend. Drop in for a cold beer any time.
- Patty Waits Beasley
Co-Leader, DigiCam SIG
Click here for a slide show of John's photography for the SIG through the years.
Click here to see photos from John's memorial service reception.
Click here to see more photos of John taken by Bruce Switalla.
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