Cover photo for Charles Hofmann's Obituary
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1908 Charles 2009

Charles Hofmann

October 24, 1908 — December 15, 2009

Charles Hofmann October 24, 1908 - December 15, 2009

Charles (Charley) Sterling Hofmann, age 101, died peacefully on December 15, 2009 at the Janesville Nursing Home. Charles was born on October 24, 1908 to Emil and Clara (Sterling) Hofmann in the house in which he lived his entire life. He graduated from Janesville High School in 1926. When his father died suddenly in 1934 leaving a large debt, Charles chose to stay on the farm and pay off the debt by developing the bee business his father had started. He and Ellen Rose Hendricks were married on July 29, 1941 at St Gabriel''s Catholic Church in Fulda, MN. Charles and Ellen enjoyed 63 years of marriage on their farm in Janesville, operating the bee business and raising four children. While developing the bee business, Charles invented many devices to make the heavy work of beekeeping easier. He became an expert in beekeeping techniques and was sought after for advice. He was very active in beekeeping associations, holding offices at regional, state and national levels. He wrote articles for bee journals and was written about in many publications and newspapers. He was a judge for the bee and honey exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair and in 1989 was honored for 50 years of service. Charles'' most famous endeavor was growing a "bee beard" for the Janesville Centennial celebration in 1958, and articles about it were sent worldwide by the Associated Press. He retired from beekeeping in 1985 at age 77, having worked with bees for 60 years. He quipped: "I didn''t loose interest, I just got old." Charles was also an accomplished and award-winning photographer. His beautiful color photos of bees were published in newspapers, journal covers and grade school textbooks. He created a slide show titled "The World of Bees" and traveled throughout the state for 2 years with the University of Minnesota Lyceum program, presenting to an estimated 34,000 students. With son Larry, this program was made into an award-winning video in 1998. Charles was clerk of the Janesville Township Board for 44 years, an election judge for many years, a board member of the Waseca County Historical Society and member of St. Ann''s choir for over 40 years. He was passionate about the environment and was an avid organic gardener. Charles enjoyed golf and travel well into his 90s, often combining the two with trips to Maui. He remained interested in current events until his last days. In his last decade of life, he began writing his memoirs, again with the help of son Larry. His book, "My Life" was published in 2005 and records the story of his adventures and the

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