On Saturday, July 11, 2015, the Notre Dame Haiti Program lost a friend, and heaven gained a teacher, mentor, scientist, and dedicated man of faith with the death of Emil T. Hofman, Ph.D.
In 2005, Fr. Tom Streit, founder of the Notre Dame Haiti Program, was scheduled to give the Emil T. Hofman lecture. This lecture series in Prof. Hofman’s name gives former students an opportunity to speak about how Prof. Hofman impacted their lives and how their work exemplify the lessons of their former professor. Prof. Hofman was impressed with Fr. Tom’s work and decided to visit Haiti. After seeing the work of the program first hand, along with experiencing the poverty of the island country, Prof. Hofman found a new passion.
He created “Emil’s Army,” recruiting his former students, now practicing physicians, and taking them on reconnaissance trips to Haiti. His hope was that the doctors would share his passion, see what needed to be done, and determine how they could make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people. Many of the doctors in Emil’s Army returned to Haiti and continued to do incredible work. “This is why I became a doctor,” is a comment frequently made by the dedicated former students of the iconic Emil T. Hofman.
Prof. Hofman’s final trip to Haiti was in 2012 and included a celebration of his 91st birthday. Prof. Hofman was a cheerleader for Haiti, for the work of Fr. Tom Streit, for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis and for the people of Haiti. The Haiti Program honors the life and work of this great man—a life well lived.
Rest in peace. Prof. Hofman.