Edward Hofma, b.1859-d.1936, and Elizabeth Pruim Hofma, b.1859-d.1938
Edward was born in Vriesland, near Zeeland, Michigan, on April 12, 1859. He was the son of Simon R. and Maria Ullberg Hofma and brother of Martin, Betje, Lawrence, Sybella, Agnes, Effie, and Clara. Simon and his family lived on a 60-acre farm in Zeeland on the southeast corner of Perry and 64th Avenue. Edward attended Holland Academy [ Hope College ] from 1878 to 1881 and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884. He practiced in Spring Lake and Grand Haven. He took a special course of study with Dr. Robert Koch [1843-1910] at Berlin in 1892 and visited hospitals in Vienna, Heidelberg, and Leyden . He was granted his request to join Walter Wellman’s expedition to the North Pole in 1898-99 as the group’s physician. The expedition fell 565 miles short of its goal. In 1899 Hofma again studied in Paris and London. He was one of the original members of the Duncan Park Board of Trustees and worked at conservation, being one of the first to plant trees on Dewey Hill. In 1907, he was on the Board of Education and served as its President from 1913 to 1914. From 1914 to 1916 he was a State Senator. Edward was one of the founders of Peoples Savings Bank, and he was President of the bank from its start in 1910 until his death. Edward was one of the founders of the Ottawa County Medical Society, and he was elected by his fellow physicians as the first doctor to serve on the Board of Trustees of the new Elizabeth Hatton Memorial Hospital, organized in 1919.
On June 30, 1886 , Edward married Elizabeth Pruim of Spring Lake. Edward and Elizabeth had no children but raised Katie Feringa as a daughter and cared for Isaac Dowlyn, Elizabeth’s stepbrother, and Mary Dowlyn, her stepsister for many years. Elizabeth was born November 17, 1859 , the daughter of Peter and Maria Regina Louis Pruim, an early immigrant day laborer, and the sister of John. Her father died when she was two years old and her mother married a widower, Abraham Dowlyn, who had two sons. Maria and Abraham had seven more children, including Isaac and Mary. The Dowlyns lived in a rented house near Summit and River streets in Spring Lake. Elizabeth graduated from Spring Lake High School, was certified to be an elementary teacher in 1882, and joined the Spring Lake School system. In 1891 Elizabeth graduated from Northwestern University Medical School. After working as assistant to the Chair of Gynecology at Northwestern, she returned to Grand Haven in 1893 and became the area’s first female doctor. The Hofmas, especially Elizabeth, were active in civic affairs and contributed to community improvement urging development of parks, tree lined streets, pure water, and sewerage systems. She was instrumental in establishing Carnegie Library; served on the library board from 1913-1933; and urged the construction of a library building on Third Street. In 1917 she served as First Director of the newly-chartered Ottawa County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
On May 26, 1934, the Hofmas deeded 40 acres on Ferris Street to Grand Haven Township, which was named Hofma Park. Dr. Hofma died on December 15, 1936, and his wife died at her home on Washington Street, two years later, on July 2, 1938. They were buried at Lake Forest Cemetery. The Hofmas provided sufficient funds to establish an endowed Chair of Biology and Hope College. The Hofma Trust was set up in 1936 to care for the remaining family members and after the death of Katie in 1960, the trust was to be dispersed over a 20 to 25 year period to ‘causes that would likely have interested the Hofmas.’ Over the years the grants ranged from a few hundred dollars to many thousands. Many were one-time grants, while others became annual affairs. With the exception of help given to various Michigan colleges, the money largely stayed in the Tri-Cities area. The final money was dispersed in 1985. [Tribune obituaries, July 6, 1938 and December 16, 1936, and Tribune article, ‘Hofma Heritage Told in Book,’ July 30, 1984, and The Hofmas, Edward and Elizabeth, 1859-1938.’]