Dr. John G. Hoffer, Jr., Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Gyp Hill Premiere, June 2, 2008.

Dr. John G. Hoffer, Jr.

March 17, 1913 – May 20, 2008

Dr. John G. Hoffer, Jr.
Dr. John G. Hoffer, Jr.
Photo courtesy of The Gyp Hill Premiere.

Dr. John G. Hoffer, Jr., born on March 17, 1913, died on May 20, 2008 at Tidewell Hospice located in Bradenton, Florida. He embraced life as a great adventure filled with wonders that demanded an enthusiastic response. His early childhood was spent in Chicago, Illinois. Then, as a teenager, he moved with his family to Wichita, Kansas. He graduated in 1937 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1944 with a Doctorate of Medicine, both from the University of Kansas. In September 1944, during World War II, Dr. Hoffer enlisted in the Army where he served as a nuero-psychologist and general surgeon until he was honorably discharged in November 1946 at the rank of Captain.

During medical school and his three years of residency in general surgery he supplemented his financial needs as a professional photographer. He married Turelda Kliewer from Pawnee Rock, Kansas. His new bride, the head nurse of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the KU Medical School, provided critical assistance throughout his career starting with key financial support during those lean years of medical school and residency. Thus began the long partnership Dr. Hoffer shared with his adoring bride. It was truly an uncommon partnership. Later, as the couple began raising a family, Mrs. Hoffer assisted him as his surgical nurse and "anesthesiologist" during numerous surgical procedures. Their wonderful story culminated in the celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary on August 20, 2007. Turelda Hoffer passed away a month later at 92 years of age on September 29, 2007 with Dr. Hoffer still at her side.

Dr. Hoffer moved his young family to Medicine Lodge, Kansas in the Fall of 1951. There he found the perfect community to practice his second lifelong love — physician and healer. The small but vibrant rural community was grateful to have found a skilled surgeon, and Dr. Hoffer relished the rare opportunity to develop a robust general medical practice in addition to his surgical practice. Medicine Lodge provided the ideal environment for the couple to raise their two children and for Mrs. Hoffer to pursue her social and philanthropic interests.

During his more than 35 years of practice at Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital, Dr. Hoffer never lost a patient in surgery. In his general medical practice he applied his professional belief that medical treatment ideally must be informed by an intimate knowledge of each patient as an individual who is also influenced by family and community. Further, he never failed to invest the extra time to inform and educate his patients in the simple, honest and complete terms he felt were necessary to prepare them to participate in the healing process.

Dr. Hoffer’s practice spanned successive generations and included nearly all areas of medicine. He delivered new life, treated runny noses, repaired trauma victims, performed countless surgical procedures and sat though the night at the bedside of the elderly as they departed life. Upon occasion, he was the sole physician in Medicine Lodge and found it necessary to provide 24-hour a day coverage to a broad geographic area. Even during these physically exhausting times he continued to perform evening house calls, often accepting payment from the less economically advantaged in the form of produce from their small farms. From time to time he earned peanuts—literally. Dr. Hoffer was honored in 1976 for his many years of outstanding service to Medicine Lodge at an awards ceremony in which he was overwhelmed by the turnout and outpouring of appreciation and affection from the community.

In 1987 at 74 years of age, Dr. and Mrs. Hoffer moved to the senior living community of Foxwood Springs in Raymore, Missouri where they spent the next eight years. The Hoffers loved the opportunities afforded them while at Foxwood Springs with its wonderful mix of residents and proximity to Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas. They forged great friendships and built fond memories, and Dr. Hoffer actively participated on committees and in planning entertainment. In their final years Dr. and Mrs. Hoffer lived with their daughter, Virginia Weber, and her husband, Ronald Weber, where they were able to continue activities with support from Virginia, a registered nurse. Shortly before his death, Dr. Hoffer made a generous donation of $100,000 to the University of Kansas Endowment Fund for the benefit of the lecture series in honor of his good friend and fellow KU alum, Dr. Stanley Friesen.

Dr. Hoffer checked into Tidewell Hospice on May 15, 2008, just days before his passing, still asking medical staff probative questions and actively participating in what he knew would be his last medical instructions. Dr. Hoffer remained a physician until but one patient remained. After giving his final orders, he surrendered control to a higher power and easily and gracefully passed smoothly on to the next great adventure, undoubtedly with renewed enthusiasm.

Dr. Hoffer is survived by his daughter, Virginia Jane Weber, his son, John G. Hoffer, III and their children.

Publisher's note by Kevin Noland: Dr. John Hoffer passed away on May 20th at Tidewell Hospice near his home in Florida. He was 95 years old. Hoffer's wife, Turelda, passed away last December. They had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Dr. Hoffer began his practice in Medicine Lodge in the fall of 1951 and retired in the mid-1980s. He touched thousands of lives during his practice here.

Dr. Hoffer and his wife Turelda during a recent visit to Medicine Lodge.
Dr. Hoffer and his wife Turelda during a recent visit to Medicine Lodge.
Photo courtesy of The Gyp Hill Premiere.

The Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas, page 233.

John Hoffer, M.D.

by Virginia Hoffer Weber

They found a nice, quiet town with good schools, a modern hospital, and the need for a doctor, so they moved to Medicine Lodge in the fall of 1951. John, Turelda, and six-year old daughter Virginia.

John went to high school and college in Wichita and then married Turelda Kliewer, a young nurse who got her R.N. from St. Rose Hospital in Great Bend. Her father was a farmer near Great Bend, and her grandfather, John Kliewer, had been a teacher at Contonement, Oklahoma, where he taught Little Raven and Little Man, two Indian chiefs who signed the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty.

Together John and Turelda went to K.U. Medical Center, where she worked in the hospital while he got his M.D. degree. Then, after a tour in the Army, our new Dr. John took a surgery residency at the Wichita V.A. Hospital and surgery practice at the V.A. Hospital in Fargo, N.D.

The office opened on November 1, 1951, in the basement of the hospital with John and Turelda working together there in surgery while little Virginia spent a lot of time begging cookies from the hospital cooks or chasing her big white dog.

Then, in 1954, a son, John George III, was born. That summer the Hoffers new baby and all, took a summer trip to California in a small trailer. Summer trips became a family time to look forward to with no telephone or house calls, a time of excitement and adventure. Other family adventures were had on the water, sailing and skiing.

During the years both children were active in school organizations, music and drama, and John III in athletics. Both went to K.U., Virginia in 1963 and John in 1973. Now Virginia lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with her husband, Ron Weber, and two sons. John III, after a year off working in Chicago, is finishing his education at K.U. where he is a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity.

1964 was a busy year, building a new large office near the hospital. With the loss of Dr. McCarty, John was the only physician in town for a time. And then the Hoffers moved to a new home a few blocks north of the hospital. Then in January, 1979, the office came full circle when it was moved back to the hospital.

Over the years Turelda has been on the library board, in a book club, a bridge club, and PEO. John also has been involved in Medicine Lodge. The Awards Banquet highlighted 1976 when John was given special recognition for service in the community. The Hoffers have found Medicine Lodge a warm decent town full of good friends and happy memories.

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Thanks to Kevin Noland, publisher of The Gyp Hill Premiere, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, for permission to republish the above obituary from his newspaper.

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