Dr. Edward Hoffman, 81, Baltimore dentist, World War II veteran

November 28, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Edward J. Hoffman, a dentist who counted many artists among his patients and once performed a root canal on himself, died Sunday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center of complications from aortic surgery. The Ruxton resident was 81.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Eutaw Place, he was a 1939 graduate of City College, where he was managing editor of the yearbook and created a clay sculpture of the school.

As a child, he displayed artistic ability and took Saturday classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Although he considered becoming an artist, he enrolled at the University of Maryland and in five years earned both his bachelor's and dental degrees.

Dr. Hoffman served in the Navy during World War II. He was stationed in the Pacific on the tender USS Ajax. Assisted by a pharmacist and using a manual as his guide, he successfully performed an appendectomy aboard the ship. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander, and returned to Navy service during the Korean War.

After World War II, he joined his father, Dr. Solomon B. Hoffman, in a dental practice at 2036 Eutaw Place. They later moved to larger quarters at 7121 Park Heights Ave., where they had additional dentists, assistants, hygienists and a dental laboratory.

Dr. Hoffman was a former president of the Baltimore City Dental Society and president of the Alpha Omega dental fraternity. He lectured locally and nationally on crown and bridge work.

"He was an artist in the way he handled gold in his tooth restoration work. He was a skilled metal worker," said his son, David A. Hoffman of Boston. "He was an usually independent and fearless individual. He did his own root canal using mirrors."

His patients included artists Aaron Sopher, Reuben Kramer, Perna Krick, Grace Hartigan and Raoul Middleman, whose work he collected and displayed in his office and in his home. When actor Rex Harrison was performing in Baltimore and had a dental emergency, he sought Dr. Hoffman. Family members said Mr. Harrison returned to Dr. Hoffman for additional work.

Dr. Hoffman sailed and made trips to the Caribbean, along the Maine coast and throughout the Chesapeake. His other interests included photography, modern art and Jewish history.

He and his wife collected folk art and antique toys, including European steam-powered trains that he restored. He was also a collector of modern blown glass. After retiring six years ago, he rented a large studio in the Mill Center in Hampden to sculpt in wood, metal, clay and bronze.

Services were held Tuesday.

In addition to his son, Dr. Hoffman is survived by his wife of 35 years, the former Adrienne A. Goldberg, a tennis teacher and a former nationally ranked player; another son, Mark R. Hoffman of Boston; a brother, Dr. Lee Hoffman, an internist, of Belchertown, Mass.; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His marriage of 24 years to the former Pauline Jacobs ended in divorce.

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