Friends and Family Gather in Cochran Chapel to Commemorate Alice Hoffman ‘13

Friends and family members gathered in Cochran Chapel for a memorial service honoring Alice Hoffman ’13, who passed away nearly a month ago after a long-battle with leukemia, on Sunday May 1. The hour-long service offered musical performances, speeches, reflections and prayers in remembrance of Hoffman.

During the service, Head of School Barbara Chase said the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees decided to name Hoffman an “honorary alumna of the classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013.”

Chase went on to describe her email correspondence with Hoffman. “[Alice] had to resort to that ancient form of communication since I’m not on Facebook. We exchanged often very short emails, my asking how she was and her thanking the folks in my office for sending her a Lady Gaga t-shirt,” said Chase in her memorial service speech.

Chase recalled more humorous email exchanges, including one where Hoffman praised her “boss moves.”

Chase said she felt touched by Hoffman’s “loving spirit, the fact that she always thought of others, and her irresistible sense of humor.”

Students and faculty members close with Hoffman shared personal reflections and anecdotes.

Ben Talarico ’11, a friend of Hoffman, recalled a Saturday night in the den where he was excluded from watching a movie with a certain group students. He felt embarrassed being rejected but Hoffman, waiting unseen in the corner stood up for him.

“Excuse me, who do you think you are?” she asks giving a cold stare only she could have invented. That’s my friend Ben. No one makes of Taly like that,” reflected Talarico.

“She spoke the ugly truth, she wasn’t afraid to laugh because she didn’t try to be perfect, she was too wise for that. Alice is gone but her memories aren’t. Memories after all, are a perfect way to obtain immortality.” ended Talarico.

Catherine Carter, Instructor in classics and house counselor of Isham dorm, shared her experiences with Hoffman. Being Hoffman’s twice house counselor for two years in a row, she said she had been in close contact with Hoffman.

“Could she sneak some dry wit, some sarcasm into conversation? Absolutely. She had colorful nails, refrigerator magnets, hats and various articles of clothing,” said Carter in her memorial service speech.

“I made a deliberate decision to back off and let Alice live as a new lower [when she returned this year], and I regret that because it cost me some time with her. I didn’t realize how precious that time was because I took it for granted that she was back for good. Whether she was in Isham, Texas or Paul Revere, she made a huge impact on my life.” continued Carter.

Richard Keller, Medical Director of Isham Health Center took shared a similar reflection of Hoffman’s indefatigable spirit and enthusiasm.

“What is so remarkable is that Alice taught us so much more than we taught her. She taught us about bravery and hope. Love and resilience,” said Keller.

“She taught us about the indomitable human spirit that can transcend any challenge or any road block. She taught us about life, what it means to be alive, and about death in a way that no philosopher or poet could, because neither was ever as wise or elegant as she.”

In between speeches, fellow classmates voiced their reflections and they shared her poems and writings from English 200 this year.

Rabbi Michael Swartz concluded the service with a Jewish prayer as audience members departed to the sounds of the harp.