Longtime Westporter Tom Hofstetter — whose civic involvement in Westport included Sunrise Rotary, sports, the arts, his church and more — died peacefully last week in Aiken, South Carolina. He was 90.
The Baltimore native majored in history at Washington College, then attended the University of Maryland Law School. After training at the Army Intelligence School, he served as an undercover CIC agent in Japan and Korea, at the end of the Korean War.
Back in the US, he obtained credentials from a small Maryland newspaper, and traveled to Cuba to report on the revolution there. He endured a restaurant bombing, and had weapons pointed in his face.
Returning to Baltimore, Tom worked in sales with Dun & Bradstreet, then transitioned into the brokerage business with Merrill Lynch. He became Walston & Company’s Northeastern sales manager, while completing courses at the University of Pennsylvania’s Investment Banking Institute.
Tom proposed to his wife Sally the first day he met her, at a Sunday morning church service.
He worked closely with Maryland’s governor and Baltimore’s mayor on many civic initiatives. He held leadership positions on the Baltimore Jail Board, Airport Planning Commission, Jaycees and Tourism Commission, and Fort McHenry. In 1964 he ran as the Republican candidate for Maryland’s 7th US Congressional District.
After moving to Westport in 1969, Tom served as vice president at Walston’s New York headquarters, and was active at the New York Stock Exchange. He led their first national marketing conference, and was pivotal in the exchange’s expansion into insurance and annuity sales.
After Wall Street, he opened Westport’s first brokerage branch. He built an extensive brokerage presence in Fairfield County, as Salomon Smith Barney’s vice president of investments.
He also traveled throughout Europe, in Hungary and Slovenia prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. He sailed extensively too, on his sailboat moored at Compo Beach.
In Westport Tom founded the Sunrise Rotary Club, and served as president of Little League. He was also chief of the Tanka Tiki Indians – YMCA Indian Guides; board member of the Westport-Weston Foundation; board member of the Westport Historical Society; deacon of Greens Farms Congregational Church; 2-term master of Masonic Lodge #65; president of the Norwalk Symphonic Orchestra, and chairman of the board of Ashlar of Newtown, a skilled nursing facility.
In retirement Tom spent time at his Vermont cabin of 30 years, exploring the back country. He and Sally also traveled through the Caribbean, Russia, the Cape of Good Hope and the Arctic. He became a scholar of Arctic history and a collector of Inuit art, traveling extensively by light aircraft and Russian icebreaker to the far reaches of the area.
Relocating to Aiken in 1998, Tom promoted the arts. He served as president of the Augusta Opera, co-founder and past chairman of the Aiken Symphony, founder of the Aiken Opera Society, and trustee of Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, Inc.
He also created Aiken Performing Arts, which introduced the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra to the area in 2005. He brought in world-class artists, while creating outreach opportunities through master classes and more.
Tom is survived by Sally, his wife of 62 year; son Thomas C. Hofstetter III, daughter Kimberly Dracon, 5 grandsons and sister Joyce May.
Funeral services are set for Saturday, June 25 in Aiken. Tom will be laid to rest on Thursday, June 30 in Westport, at a private family burial.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, 262 East Gate Drive #440, Aiken, SC 29803.