• Deirdre McCrohan

Belvedere's Molly Hofmann was citizen emerita and committed community volunteer


Mary M. “Molly” Hofmann, Belvedere’s 2018 Citizen of the Year Emerita, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 5 at her home in Belvedere. She was 91.

Mrs. Hofmann, who had lived in Belvedere for nearly 64 years, served on the Belvedere Parks and Open Space Committee from 1983 to 2016 — and possibly came on earlier, but Belvedere records are incomplete — and she helped shepherd several of the city’s open-space projects.

In her time on the parks committee, Mrs. Hofmann worked to inventory all the walking paths and public benches in town, was key to remodeling the Belvedere Community Park playground and helped design the plantings along the walking path on San Rafael Avenue.

She was honored on Jan. 16, 2019, with the other Citizen of the Year honorees at the annual Belvedere Town Hall meeting.

“I just loved Belvedere, and I wanted it to stay cared for,” Mrs. Hofmann said of her award.

In naming Mrs. Hofmann Citizen of the Year Emerita, the committee — which is made up of past honorees — recognized her as someone who worked behind the scenes for years without drawing attention to herself and “very quietly does a lot of different things,” selection committee member Roger Felton said at the time for a profile of Mrs. Hofmann in The Ark.

Expanding on this last week, he said, “She was a sweetheart. She pitched in when something was needed, and she did her thing without a lot of fanfare.”

Mrs. Hofmann also organized garden tours through the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society and was integral to starting the highly popular annual Bouquets to Arts program at the de Young Museum, in which volunteers produce floral arrangements inspired by works of art in the museum.

In the 1950s and 1960s, developers were pushing to fill in the part of Richardson Bay now occupied by the Richardson Bay Audubon Sanctuary. Mrs. Hofmann and other Belvedere women started a phone tree to urge passage of a bond to purchase some of the land from the developer and keep it as is. It won 90 percent approval of voters.

In the early 2000s, Mrs. Hofmann joined with Belvedere residents Denise Bauer, Suzanne Gagan and Annette Ryan and Tiburon resident Janet Raiche to renovate the Community Park playground.

Bauer described Mrs. Hofmann as “always forward-looking” in last year’s Ark profile.

“She was so incredibly open-minded and always looking for new ideas and smart ways to do things.”

Ryan said that Mrs. Hofmann had a “joie de vivre” that transferred to her volunteer work.

“She had a tenacity and an eye for the aesthetic, which was the basis for all that she involved in,” said Ryan.

Mrs. Hofmann also served on the boards of Marin Country Day School and the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society.

A talented floral designer herself, she helped launch the highly popular Bouquets to Art program at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in which the Bay Area’s best professional and amateur floral designers create arrangements inspired by the museum’s paintings.

In the 1970s, she ran her own business, Pzazz, a mobile floral design and holiday gift shop. It evolved into her floral-design business, which continued until shortly before her death.

In her free time, she also enjoyed travel, music, reading, playing dominoes and being with her family.

Born Mary Macdonough on June 15, 1928, to Sarah Worthington Mitchell Macdonough and Dent William Macdonough, she and sister Joan grew up on the 2,000-acre Ormondale Ranch in the Portola Valley.

Mrs. Hofmann attended Katherine Branson School in Ross, now known as The Branson School, and was later honored as a Branson School emeritus trustee in 2018.

Mrs. Hofmann then earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley. She moved to San Francisco and worked in the decorating field in Jackson Square.

She met her husband, John, now 97, at a dance for the Spinsters of San Francisco, a social and philanthropic women’s organization. They were married in 1954 and moved to their first Belvedere home in 1956.

They first lived on San Rafael Avenue opposite the lagoon, right when homes were just starting to pop up on the dredged land.

They later moved into their second home at 160 Madrona Ave., a designated historic landmark where they lived for years until they downsized to their current home on Britton Avenue on Belvedere Island.

Mrs. Hofmann is survived by her husband of 66 years, John “Jack” R. Hofmann, a former Belvedere city attorney; three children, John “Trip” Hofmann III of Corte Madera, Gretchen Hofmann of Carbondale, Colo., and Joan Hofmann Alexander of Moscow, Idaho; and five grandchildren — Whitney Will of Carbondale, Joseph Hack of Glenwood Springs, Colo., Emily Alexander of Boise, Idaho, Olivia Alexander of Sacramento and Jackson Alexander of Moscow, Idaho.

Her daughter Sarah died in 2009; her sister, Joan Macdonough Evans, died in 2016.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. March 8 at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross.

Donations in her memory may be sent to Marin Agricultural Land Trust, P.O. Box 809, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956; Marin Country Day School, 5221 Paradise Drive, Corte Madera, CA 94925; or to The Branson School, P.O. Box 887, Ross, CA 94957.

Deirdre McCrohan has reported on Tiburon local government and community issues for more than 30 years. Reach her at 415-944-4634.

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