Dr. Hoffler’s legacy will live on

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2004

The day before Thanksgiving, Dr. Oswald Hoffler passed away.

But because of his work in the medical field, the people he trained, and the lives he touched, his name – and his legacy – will be around forever.

&uot;We always liked to work with him, because he taught us the whole time,&uot; said Jacque Edwards, who trained as an Obici Hospital nurse under Hoffler. &uot;He made sure you understood what you were seeing.

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&uot;When we worked with him in the operating room, he would always make a point of explaining everything as we went along.&uot;

After her training ended, Edwards said, &uot;he was a great person for always recognizing and remembering you. He always made it a point to speak to you.&uot;

Jacque’s husband, Leroy, has similar sentiments.

&uot;Dr. Hoffler was a fine surgeon and a fine physician,&uot; said Jacque’s husband, Leroy, the hospital’s former chief financial officer. &uot;He just had a certain charisma about him that made people respect him.&uot;

After Hoffler was appointed as the Director of Medical Affairs at Norfolk Community Hospital in 1956, the hospital partnered with Howard University Hospital to train the facility’s students. Over the next 40 years, Hoffler helped to train over 500 surgical residents.

Of all of his accomplishments, in and of themselves enough to fill a novel, Hoffler was proudest of helping to create so many new additions to the medical field, said his wife, Irene.

&uot;I think he’d like to be remembered for serving mankind by training 500 residents,&uot; she said. &uot;He was a very dedicated person to the medical field. Anytime he helped train someone to do something to help the sick, it brought him great satisfaction.

&uot;He was proud that he made such a contribution to his city and his community,&uot; Irene said. &uot;He really embraced the medical practice. He was a doctor who cared about his patients.&uot;

&uot;I cannot say enough good things about him,&uot; said Bobbie Chapman, another of Hoffler’s assistants.

&uot;He just had the greatest respect from all the nurses who ever worked with him. He was so admired in the operating room for his skill during surgery, and when he was with patients, he just showed such kindness and compassion.

&uot;He had a gentle strength and calmness, and it just reached out to people, nurses and patients alike. He was a great teacher; he took students like me under his wing.

&uot;We’d go to the operating room shaking in our shoes, but when you went in and worked under him, his kindness extended to people. He was unique.&uot;

As a nursing teacher at Paul D. Camp Community College, Chapman hopes to carry on Hoffler’s influence in her own classrooms.

&uot;I’d love to be able to teach like him, but I don’t know if I can,&uot; she said. &uot;He was so knowledgeable, such a calming influence. People learned so much from him, because he always knew what students needed to learn.&uot;

Hoffler was the first black physician to join the surgical staffs at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, DePaul Hospital, Norfolk General Hospital, and Obici. His medical organizational memberships included Norfolk Medical Society, Norfolk County Medical Society (now Norfolk Academy of Medicine), Old Dominion Medical Society, Medical Society of Virginia, National Medica1 Association, American Medical Association and American College of Surgeons.

Hoffler was also a life member of the NAACP and HUMAA, and served as Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery of Howard University’s College of Medicine and as Assistant Professor of Surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School.