GODFREY — When many members of the local community hear the phrase “Hey Jude,” they think of a good friend and civic leader rather than the Beatles tune.
“Hey Jude was a great lady,” Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick says. “(She) was admired by the entire community. We are all very sad, and sorry for her passing.”
Judith “Judy” Hoffman passed away at her home in Alton on Dec. 24. With her passing, the area lost an author, talk show host, property management executive, friend and Godfrey historian.
Not only was Hoffman, 73, an expert on the village’s history, she was part of it as well. As the wife of Lars Hoffman, the first mayor of Godfrey, she became known as “the woman behind the man.”
“She was always supportive of Lars,” Godfrey Village Clerk Pam Whisler said. “She always was there to help him.”
In 1991, the village was incorporated, and Lars took office as the first mayor.
Whisler says during the research and writing of Judy’s book, “God’s Portion: Godfrey, Illinois 1817-1865,” she managed to balance the different facets of her life, and do it well.
“She would always be making trips to the library in Springfield but would still make time for Godfrey and Lars,” Whisler said.
This book focused on the early settling and history of the Godfrey area. Judy was the go-to person for history on the Godfrey area, an unofficial historian for the village.
In addition, she hosted an afternoon radio talk show on WBGZ entitled “Hey Jude,” focusing both on the local history of Godfrey as well as current happenings.
Whisler calls Judy a friend to the community whose passion for Godfrey will live on for generations.
“She had a selflessness that has helped this community,” she said. “Judy was the type of person who would make notes of the past so others would be aware of what had happened. From these notes, people will be able to make better decisions for the present and future.”
Among her many awards, Judy received the Studs Terkel Humanities Award and was an Alton Area Woman of Distinction.
Whenever seeing Judy, McCormick liked to refer to her by her show’s title “Hey Jude.” He says Judy was always there when he needed someone to talk to about Godfrey, and her input on certain decisions was always appreciated. He says he knows her heart was always with Godfrey.
McCormick was especially saddened that Judy did not get to witness the completion and opening of Hoffman Gardens, part of Great Rivers Park off the Great River Road near Clifton Terrace Road. This memorial garden is dedicated to both Lars, who passed away in 2005, and Judy and is expected to be finished this spring.
“At night, the bluffs have lights that make the whole area beautiful,” McCormick said.