Hoffmaster, Howard “Baby Boy”

Howard “Baby Boy” Hoffmaster, 86, of Winona, passed away Thursday, May 4, 2023, at Lake Winona Manor, Winona. Howard was born in South St. Paul, Minn., on October 9th, 1936, to W. Deen and Bernice Hoffmaster. He attended Park College in Missouri. It was in the Park College soccer program that he met his future wife, Nancy Lou Hoffmaster. They married on June 8, 1957.

Howard completed his degree in biological chemistry and began his professional career working in copy on the newsroom floor. He worked tirelessly to support his family, slowly rising through the newsroom ranks to publisher. His promotions prompted his family to move from Iowa to Missouri, Oregon, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, finally, returning to Winona. During his career, he shepherded two newspapers to winning “Best Newspaper” in their state and won awards for best editorial, best personal column, and best news story.

Howard often used his position at the paper to write divisive opinion editorials. He fought for desegregating schools, radical environmental reform, and personal responsibility. Howard’s belief in civic responsibility drove his numerous volunteer engagements. He chaired the Winona Area Historical Society Board, taught adjunct journalism courses, and was a Lay Minister at Merrillan United Methodist Church.

He retired from the Winona Daily News on September 30, 1997, after 45 years in the newspaper business to pursue his many interests full-time. He was an avid outdoorsman, woodworker, photographer, and writer. In his retirement, he continued to volunteer for church and mentorship programs both in Winona and Merrillan, Wis. 

Howard was a troubadour, a steadfast observer of life. His musings were often captured in his creative writings and captain’s log for his beloved tugboat, “The Amiable Turtle.” He believed his destination was the journey and often reflected matter-of-factly on the going-ons around him. When Howard wasn’t out camping, fishing, or hunting, he found purpose in humoring Nancy’s many passions and answering his grandchildren’s many questions.

Howard was a devout brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He is survived by their five children; Erick (Elizabeth) Hoffmaster, of Cochrane, Wis.; Kimberly (Theodore) Miller, of Fond du Lac, Wis.; Gregory Hoffmaster, of Trempealeau; Michelle (Paul) Langowski, of Minnesota City; and Curtis Hoffmaster, of Rollingstone. He is survived by 16 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, as well as by his brother, Bruce (Ann) Hoffmaster, and his sister-in-law, Louise Gleason. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Nancy Lou Hoffmaster; his parents; brother, Roger Hoffmaster; and his brother and sister-in-law, Bobby and Carol Lorence.

Howard’s family wishes to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for Lake Winona Manor and Winona Area Hospice. A private celebration of life will be held at Famer’s Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be directed to the International Crane Foundation: International Crane Foundation, ATTN: Gift Processing, PO BOX 447, Baraboo WI 53913 or at savingcranes.org.

Services entrusted to Fawcett Junker Funeral Home & Crematory, Winona. Online condolences can be left at www.fawcett-junkerfuneralhome.com.