Alice was the beloved daughter of De Lora Nobuo and Peter Hoffman, step-daughter of Betty Hoffman and sister of Sarah Hoffman. The Andover community was blessed with the opportunity to learn and live with her.
“She was really comfortable with everyone and joked around with anyone. It didn’t matter who you were, she was just joking around all the time…She would talk to strangers. She would have a really long conversation with anyone and everyone she would see,” said Karen Morales ’12.
“Her chair had this button that would open the doors [of Isham dorm] and you would know she was coming because the doors would open. No one would be there for a few seconds, then you would see her. People would knock on her window [for her to open the doors].”
Alice’s movie collection was famous in her dorms, as well as her knack for dragging reluctant friends to watch horror films with her. She had a huge purple binder filled with about 200 DVDs, which friends would browse on the weekends. Many remember Alice cajoling them to watch “The Exorcist” or another scary movie. People who had never spent time with Alice before got to know her over the course of a comedy or chick flick.
With characteristic spunk, Alice unleashed herself on the walls of room. Her posters would make anyone who came into her room laugh. She made an effort for her room to be a welcoming place where people could come.
Friends remember the favorite meals they ate with Alice again and again. “I would always make fun of her for this. She really liked pasta, so every day for lunch and dinner, she would eat Commons pasta, and I would just be like ‘Really, again?’…She really liked ordering take-out and her favorite was Fuddruckers, for sure.” Alice always ordered a milkshake, a hamburger and fries.
For her first two years at Andover, Alice zoomed around campus in her power cart with “speed demon driving habits,” according to her father. Her second year as a junior, Alice slowly began learning to walk again. Girls who lived with her remember the day she walked from Isham to the library, a new accomplishment, the excitement she radiated and the pride they felt.
Alice opened herself up to Andover with an enormous generosity, sometimes through performance. In November of this year, Alice performed an original rap at the Rap Battle. “Turns out I had cancer, specifically leukemia, my life got hit like N’Orleans got hit by Katrina,” she rapped.
“She decided to do it an hour before the show. It was just really spontaneous. She was really nervous and she was about to back down, but she went up there and she did it, she just did her thing. Everyone really liked it, cheered for her,” said Morales.
In January, Alice read a poem at a performance by spoken word artist George Watsky. Alice was a fan of Watsky’s work from seeing him on TV. Her poetry about the confronting the realities of her life moved the audience.
Many students will miss Alice’s smooth, clear voice. At a coffee house last winter she sang “Running Around in My Dreams” by Tyrone Wells with Alex Morrow ’12 playing guitar.
“We stayed up late so many nights practicing in my room and everyone [in the dorm] got really sick of the song…We were really nervous about it but Alice is someone who just makes you want to do things you wouldn’t normally do, to take chances. When we finally got up on stage, she was amazing. She was so confident,” said Morrow.
Alice advocated for the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match” Foundation, a registry of people willing to donate bone marrow. Alice was inspired to help by her experience with illness and her difficulty in finding a compatible donor when she needed a bone marrow transplant.
“Before having to withdraw from school a second time, she was working on starting a bone marrow registry drive at Andover to be held in the spring semester. Becoming registered as a bone marrow donor is very easy involving nothing more than a swab from the mouth. She was hoping to have as many Andover students as possible become registered,” said Mr. Hoffman.
“Bone marrow is more compatible by race…She would always complain about how some people out there really need bone marrow donations but mostly Caucasian people donate and not enough Hispanics or black people or Asians donate. She really wanted a variety of people to donate,” said Morales.
Before she left this past winter, Alice planned a project with Marga Kempner ’12 and other friends to raise money and awareness for “Be The Match” by selling T-shirts. She chose the slogans for the T-shirts, “Team Hoffman” and “Don’t Hassle the Hoff,” and wanted them to be “really ganster,” according to Kempner.
Alice’s vivacity, outgoing personality and intense engagement in her interactions with everyone made her a remarkable presence at Andover and everywhere she went. “She told me that before she had cancer she was a really shy girl, like barely talked. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What? You, shy, not talking?’” said Morales.
“Above all, she wanted to be treated just like anyone else and she went about being that way. I think people just really liked her spunk and the fact that she had no shame,” Morales continued.
Alice built fierce friendships with many students, partly because she spent time as member of the classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013. She had an uncanny ability to strike up a conversation and connect with a person. Many admired Alice’s relentless attitude towards school. “The driving force behind Alice’s efforts to finish at Andover was love of the school and the friends she made there. Alice felt that she had found her niche,” said Mr. Hoffman.
In the fall of 2007, Alice rolled down the vista in her power cart to matriculate with the class 2011. She was diagnosed with leukemia in seventh grade and underwent chemotherapy as she thought about high school and applied to Andover.
The spring of 2008, Alice had to withdraw from school to receive hip replacements at home in Houston. After months of recovery and intense physical therapy, she returned to school the following January, able to gradually start walking. She entered the junior class of 2012 and lived in Isham dorm again.
That spring, Alice relapsed and returned home to receive a bone marrow transplant. After a year missing school she came back this past fall, this time steadily on her feet. Friends were thrilled to see her return as a lower in the class of 2013 and many people who had not attended Andover with her before were touched by her friendship. A second relapse sent Alice home this past March.
“Alice kept coming back to Andover because she loved the school. Nothing would have made her happier than being able to graduate from there. Alice’s sister went to Phillips Exeter. Alice, for as long as I remember, has talked about also attending a boarding school. She thought it was a lot of fun to attend the arch rival to her sister’s school. They would often tease each other about which had attended the better school,” said Mr. Hoffman.
On April 12, 2011 Alice passed away at a Texas hospital. Students, faculty and staff are reeling in grief and commiserate with Alice’s family and all those who loved her.
Alice drove through her life like she zipped around in her chair, always on a mission, always excited and always ready to stop to have a converation or open a door for someone. She was a gift to those around her and will always be remembered.