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Joel A. Hoff

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“Joel and I first met in Boston, in 1984, where we were both working with the Southeast Asian refugee community. In 1992 we were both working in...Read More »
1 of 6 | Posted by: Ken Riebe - Minneapolis, MN


2 of 6 | Posted by: Ken Riebe - Minneapolis, MN

“Joel and I were friends for forty years. As such we were present for milestones in each other's lives. My sincere condolences to Ben, Anne, and Amelia ”
3 of 6 | Posted by: Martha Guevara - Framingham, MA

“For many years, Joel was my colleague in the Liberal Arts Department of Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Although I met him as a coworker, I...Read More »
4 of 6 | Posted by: Joshua Cohen - Somerville, MA

“I had known Joel since the mid 1990s. Found him to be a very deeply intellectual person with wide spread knowledge in various world languages,...Read More »
5 of 6 | Posted by: Savvy Vemparala - Holliston, MA

“Thank you all for your kind words ”
6 of 6 | Posted by: Anne Hoff - Concord, CA - Family


Joel Allen Hoff was born in Gardner, MA on August 8, 1948 to parents Elbridge E. Hoff and Janet Duthie Hoff. He began school in Guilford, CT and finished secondary school at Phillips Exeter Academy. After that he was based in Massachusetts, earning his B.A. in French and Philosophy from Williams College and a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature (French) from Harvard University. Joel was born in the wrong era; he should have lived when being a scholar was a career in itself. He pursued studies of art history, Cambodian history, ancient Greek mythology and literature, and was fluent in French, Khmer, Latin, and Italian. He enjoyed fine art, classical music and opera, genealogy, woodworking, a good story or joke, and most of all, his son, Ben.

Joel began Southeast Asian studies and service to refugees in the Boston area, expanded his work to the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand and then moved to Phnom Penh with the United Nations, working in several projects, including Landmine Awareness, Preparation for Elections, and Children Affected by Armed Conflict. While in Cambodia, his son, Benjamin Duthie Hoff, was born.

Back in the Boston area in 1998, Joel returned to college level teaching at various colleges and universities; he taught his most recent classes at MassArt. His focus was always scholarship, teaching and mentorship. He raised Ben as a single father and was a loyal son to his own mother in CT. Joel struggled with Parkinson's Disease during the last decade of his life and died in Waltham, MA on December 30, 2020.

He is survived by son Ben, sister Anne Hutchin Hoff, niece Amelia Hoff, first cousin James Duthie, and several other cousins of various generations.

Suggestions for charitable giving include the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Boston Chamber Music Society.