STICKNEY — Don Hoffman developed a love for Independence Day.
In his 70s, Hoffman sold fireworks and put on his own fireworks show for area residents for more than a decade. Last year, Hoffman put together a big fireworks show for his community, and told friends and family he expected it to be his last show.
Unfortunately, Hoffman’s premonition was correct. Hoffman, 87, died on Wednesday, July 3, at Firesteel Healthcare Center in Mitchell.
Despite the sadness, his family said Thursday had special meaning because of how Hoffman felt about the celebration.
“It was truly his holiday,” said Hoffman’s son, Gary.
A veteran of the Korean War, Hoffman worked as a truck driver, a road construction worker, and a man in the hay business before discovering a passion for fireworks. In 2005, Don and other members of his family began selling fireworks out of Don's garage. In the first year of business, they sold about $200 worth of merchandise, and the business came into form in later years.
“Things really started to pick up year after year, and that really inspired him to take his newfound passion further,” said Gary Hoffman.
Hoffman’s passion grew into a large scale fireworks show held annually in Stickney, and eventually drew hundreds of locals.
“The town really rallied around him as he really wanted to bring people together and everyone to see it, so he always made sure to make it free,” said Gary. “He was very particular and would formulate his plans for his next year’s show almost immediately after his current one.”
Hoffman was never shy to show just how joyful and proud he was of his work, his son said.
“He surely loved it, and it gave him another reason to talk to people and he really loved to do that,” Gary Hoffman said.
Don’s daughter, Donna Lowin, said that she loved to watch how enthusiastic her brother would get about putting on these firework displays.
“He enjoyed it immensely, and looked forward to it every year,” said Lowin. “Even being in the nursing home, he put up flyers all over town and the nursing home to let absolutely everybody he could about the show. That's how strong-willed he was about it.”
A visitation for Hoffman is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stickney. His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at St. John’s Catholic Church in Plankinton.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to indicate Lowin is Hoffman's daughter, and to clarify when Hoffman started his fireworks business.