Antique Vintage 12
Official Obituary of

Gerald W. Hoffmann

November 27, 1947 ~ June 28, 2023 (age 75) 75 Years Old

Gerald Hoffmann Obituary

Gerald (Jerry) W. Hoffmann, age 75, of New Haven, MO passed away from complications of advanced melanoma on June 28, 2023. Jerry was the son of the late James M. Hoffmann and Grace D. (Scott), born November 27, 1947 in Hale Center, TX.  He grew up in Kirkwood, MO, graduated from Kirkwood High School in 1965 and met his first wife, Karen Robbins, of St Louis, MO whom he married in 1969. Jerry showed an early interest in art and design which led him to the University of Kansas School of the Arts where he graduated in 1970. 

Jerry's career path included jobs that formed the basis for his future accomplishments. He became a skilled designer in a variety of materials, most especially in iron and wood. After working as a graphic artist, he became a farrier where he learned the art of forming metal for shoeing. Combining these skills, Jerry launched into his largest body of work in the early 80's as a craftsman and educator of award-winning ornamental and architectural blacksmithing. From August 1990 to April 2010, he created and published the Blacksmiths Journal, a monthly publication of instructional and design material for blacksmiths ( which continues to be available in collections, books and projects. 

In 2007 Jerry began his passionate pursuit as an accomplished, self-taught and sought-after master craftsman of high quality ukuleles under the name Boat Paddle Ukulele Company, later changing the name to Hoffmann Lutherie to include the building of other stringed instruments. Many of his fine instruments were sold from Hawaii Music Supply in Haleiwa, HI. Jerry's work was featured in all forms of media. These included a special feature in The Ukulele Review ( and as part of the "Arts America" segment about New Haven, MO airing on PBS Channel 9 St. Louis, in 2014.  His business was sold in 2019.

In 1995, Jerry married Janelle Gilbert from Indiana, settling in Washington, MO. In 2000, he designed and built his first house and then a second in New Haven, MO, where he and Janelle resided together until his passing.

Jerry modeled an unparalleled commitment and passion to his work and personal interests. Many were in awe of his creativity and ingenuity in all things "built by Jerry."  During his lifetime he designed unique tools and designs in the art of blacksmithing and developed innovative features for his ukuleles. Although he lost most of his hearing in later years, he found ways to communicate and show love in often whimsical and endearing ways. He will be missed beyond measure, but his life's work and legacy will live on.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Janelle Gilbert Hoffmann of New Haven, MO; his two children Dustin Hoffmann of Columbia, MO and Molly Hill (Victor Hill) of Fenton, MO; his brother James M. Hoffmann Jr. (Liesbeth Berger) of Kirkwood, MO; and his sister Jean Still (Steve Still) of Marceline, MO.

Interment will be private.  Remembrances can be left on the tribute wall, and memorial contributions to plant a tree in Jerry's name may be made through the posting at  

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