West Seattle business owner, Junction Car Show founder Michael Hoffman dies at 47

March 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 43 Comments

At left, that’s Michael Hoffman, proprietor of Liberty Bell Print and Design and founder of the West Seattle Car Show. We’ve just learned that Mr. Hoffman died of a sudden illness last night at his Arbor Heights home; he was 47 years old. For 13 years, Mr. Hoffman owned what was founded in 1973 as Liberty Bell Printing, located in The Junction until moving it out of a storefront three years ago. Susan Melrose, director of the West Seattle Junction Association, shares this tribute:

The news of losing our friend and colleague Michael Hoffman will be received as a tragic loss for our community. Michael’s spirit of kindness, consideration, humor, and charity has touched so many people in so many ways. He has left a positive imprint on West Seattle that will be remembered. Here in The Junction, we will remember and honor Michael with the deep appreciation that he so genuinely deserves.

Mr. Hoffman founded the street-closing Junction Car Show in 2008 and continued to organize it annually; last year’s edition was the sixth annual show. No word yet on a memorial service; we’ll update with whatever we find out.

43 Comments

  1. = (

    Comment by ocean — 5:52 pm March 11, 2014 #

  2. This is such sad and shocking news.

    .

    Michael was such a generous, supportive friend and asset to the West Seattle community on many levels.

    .

    I got to know Michael a bit over the last year on a few occasions, including charity events. He was just a genuinely nice guy.

    .

    My deepest condolences to Michael’s family and loved ones. He will be sorely missed.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 6:00 pm March 11, 2014 #

  3. What a sad day! My sincerest sympathies to Michael’s family and his huge West Seattle family in which I include myself. I’ve known Michael for absolutely years as many in WS have. He was truly a great guy who would, and did, do many things for this community, most of it behind the scenes, with no acknowledgment. He will be greatly missed.

    Comment by WSince86 — 6:30 pm March 11, 2014 #

  4. We are very saddened to hear of this. Michael was the greatest guy & helped us with our printing, etc. over the years. He loved his cat & sent a picture of his cat for my relative, which she enjoyed immensely over the years. This is a tremendous loss to the community. Yes, Mike, we totally agree with you. Very saddened. Such a great person.

    Comment by Bree — 6:33 pm March 11, 2014 #

  5. I’m so sad. He was a dear man.

    Comment by Kadoo — 6:40 pm March 11, 2014 #

  6. Michael was such a kind, wonderful person. This is such heartbreaking news especially for someone so young. He will be greatly missed by so many in this community for his wonderful spirit, great printing work and so much that he did for the animal and other local groups.

    Comment by Lena — 6:47 pm March 11, 2014 #

  7. Michael will be sorely missed. As a small business owner in West Seattle he did so much for this community with countless hours of time and resources devoted to the WS Junction Association and car show most don’t realize how much effort he put in to making West Seattle a better place to live. Rest in peace my friend and let’s hope there are muscle cars in heaven.

    Comment by BornonAlki — 6:51 pm March 11, 2014 #

  8. I’m so sad to hear this! Michael helped the West Seattle Y with our printing needs for many years – always ready with a smile and quick service as well! He’ll be missed also for putting on a great car show!

    Comment by Wendy Hobson — 7:06 pm March 11, 2014 #

  9. R.I.P. Michael! Every business interaction I had with him was a pleasure, which I attribute to his generous, easy-going nature. He seemed a very kind soul. You will be missed.

    Comment by Friend O'Dinghus — 7:50 pm March 11, 2014 #

  10. So sad to hear about his passing. I had talked with him many times and had even recommended his business to friends. His kindness and his generosity will be missed.

    Comment by Celeste17 — 8:23 pm March 11, 2014 #

  11. Im so sorry for your loss. I look forward to the car show every year, please continue them in his memory.

    Comment by alki Resident — 8:33 pm March 11, 2014 #

  12. This is shocking news. He was such a kind and big hearted man; Personally and professionally just a great person to be around.

    He will be missed.

    Comment by Dr Kate — 9:11 pm March 11, 2014 #

  13. wow; shocking; so sorry to hear

    Comment by Diane — 9:18 pm March 11, 2014 #

  14. When our first child was born, we went into Michael’s shop to have birth announcements printed. This was printing was still actually printed, and the smell of ink was strong inside the shop from the noisy offset presses. Michael and his staff were friendly and did a great job with the printing. When we opened our business a few years later, there was no question where we would go for our printing. We got to know Michael well over the years, his love for cats, his ready smile and all his efforts to put on the Junction Car Show every year. He really cared about the people in our community and it showed in so many of the things he did. Last year he arrived at our office unannounced and unfurled an enormous banner that he ordered and had overnighted to celebrate an award we received. It was one of the nicest gifts we’ve ever received and was accompanied by a big hug. That’s just how Michael was–thoughtful, generous and always thinking about how to make things really great. We will miss him terribly as will so many others in our community. We send our condolences to his family and all of his friends.

    Comment by Anne and Clarence Higuera — 10:21 pm March 11, 2014 #

  15. There’s a part of me that feels it inappropriate to post anything here…but I smile in the midst of my overwhelming sadness and imagine Michael at his (unbelievably messy!) desk at Liberty Bell… checking in to see ‘who was saying what’ on ‘The Blog’… and somehow it becomes fitting to speak.

    Gosh… I shake my head in disbelief… I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to not go to the ‘unnamed’ eatery in the Junction that you refuse to set foot in… ;) or to our all time favorite where I’d have the ‘double Cadillac’ and complain about the food… Just one more time…

    You, my friend, taught me more about life and learning and loving and caring and giving and sharing … than any single other ever has… outside of my Mother… or maybe even my Mother (sorry Ma!).

    You Sir, taught me patience and grace (although sometimes barely contained) and also when it was perfectly acceptable to let go and move on. You ‘fired’ more clients than any other business owner I’ve ever known and I loved and respected you more for each one! You stood beside me, even in my earnest beginnings of working in your shop and never once threw me under the bus or even allowed my toes to come close to the wheels.

    It seems a might trite to be writing this in an online forum… but I’m never going to get to say it to you again. I’m never going to get to stand on my tippy toes and feel your arms wrap around me, as you bend your giant frame to mine… to meet in a warm hug. I’ll never get to see your beautiful, childlike smile… or hear your laugh … accompanied with a palm smacking a knee of an always bare nature … as never a pant leg was to be seen.

    You and I spoke about my not seeing enough in this world to find it precious enough to miss, if I had to leave it tomorrow. This is the last lesson you’ll teach me. It is precious… I wish we could have had one more today… If there is a place where good people go… I know you are there. You will aways be ‘here’ … in my heartpocket… <3

    Comment by lisa town — 10:53 pm March 11, 2014 #

  16. I didn’t know him, but he sounded like a wonderful man. My gosh, only age 47- too soon to be taken away from friends and family, for sure. My thoughts are with all his friends and family. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Comment by ACG — 11:13 pm March 11, 2014 #

  17. That was very heart felt Lisa town,Im sorry for your loss.

    Comment by alki resident — 11:16 pm March 11, 2014 #

  18. Lisa, thank you for sharing…

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 5:52 am March 12, 2014 #

  19. My husband and I met Michael when we were trying to put together our wedding invitations. He was the most wonderful, kind and helpful person and he didn’t charge us an arm and a leg like some other big companies were trying to do. I will never forget his kindness.

    Comment by GoGo — 8:17 am March 12, 2014 #

  20. so sad. I didn’t know him, but our family loves the car show. and here on WSB I’ve heard only good things about Liberty Bell Print and Design.
    our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. R.I.P. Michael

    Comment by sam-c — 8:22 am March 12, 2014 #

  21. This is very sad news. I worked with Michael on many events. He will be sorely missed.

    Comment by Oliver Little — 8:44 am March 12, 2014 #

  22. Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa. Your tribute makes me smile as we remember.

    Comment by WSince86 — 8:49 am March 12, 2014 #

  23. So sad to hear this news. We’ve known Michael for a few years and the car show is a great local event that we were proud to be a part of.
    If the show continues, it would be great to honor him with the grand prize trophy being named for him or some other fitting tribute.

    Comment by Todd — 9:31 am March 12, 2014 #

  24. So saddened to see this, and what Lena and Lisa and most all others said. He too helped guide on making my amazing cool stickers for the cat rescue community. Although I hated the smell of the old shop, I loved walking by the window and seeing the cool old printing press. He was a true West Seattle businessman and booster. He hopefully will be honored and remembered by WSCofC during upcoming festivals. Thankyou to Michael!

    Comment by KD — 9:33 am March 12, 2014 #

  25. I am so saddened to hear that my friend has passed.

    While he has been noted in this article and comments for his role in founding the West Seattle Car Show, Michael did so many other great things for this community that have not yet been recognized; things we all may take for granted:

    - Those wonderful flowers in the hanging baskets along California
    - The growth and development of the West Seattle Summer fest
    - What was once a vacant lot and is now the public park at Alaska and 42nd
    - Community programs to help local pets
    - The free parking lots provided by the Junction

    As a past President of the West Seattle Junction Business Association, Michael had a role in developing, fostering and making these a reality for us all to enjoy on a daily basis.

    In addition, Michael was a true believer in the WS community, and a champion for local businesses. Michael not only ran his own shop, but actively encouraged, cajoled and convinced many of the importance of a strong, independent local business community.

    There are so many more things I could add to his list of achievements, but his greatest accomplishment was in leaving those he spoke with feeling better than they did before the discussion. Unfortunately, the space provided in this blog or any other written format will never be great enough to share the positive memories and heartfelt emotions that Michael generated in this community.

    While the video that Chris Boffoli produced about the closing of the Liberty Bell storefront is bittersweet to watch now, there was one particular moment in that video that made me smile.

    http://vimeo.com/18109304

    At both the :20 mark, and then again at :47 you can see a wonderful poster hanging from the ceiling – a poster that had hung on the walls of Square One Books for years and then found a new home with Liberty Bell.

    The poster reads, “Unchain Your Mind, Think Independent.” Michael lived this in his own life and challenged others to do the same. In Michael’s honor, please consider BELIEVING and participating in your community through volunteerism and supporting the local businesses that make this community vibrant.

    Comment by m2 — 10:43 am March 12, 2014 #

  26. Thanks, M2. This was just an initial short story to let the community know of Mr.Hoffman’s passing. Thank you for adding more details, and thank you to everyone sharing remembrances. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:51 am March 12, 2014 #

  27. Wow. Reading these comments makes me feel so sad and glad at the same time. Sad because of Michael’s untimely death and about the loss of such a wonderful person and what that means most especially to his family but to all of us who ever had the pleasure of doing business with him and just plain conversing with him-so funny, so interesting, odd and unique. We bonded over “Firefly!” But I’m glad too because I see here what he left behind for us. Good works, good business and good memories. He was just… really, really good. We will miss you Michael. Godspeed.

    Comment by Galen Guffy — 10:52 am March 12, 2014 #

  28. Very very sad, and a great loss to our community. We worked with Michael many times on different projects. He was one of the nicest people I have ever known.
    He will be missed.

    Comment by Kent — 11:52 am March 12, 2014 #

  29. How sad to learn that Michael passed away
    He was a super kind man
    and really a sweet heart
    His emails always included a positive and inspirational message or quote which was so nice
    He did all of the printing for Husky Ice Cream and was very appreciated
    Wishing his family prayers and solace in their loss
    Pamela

    Comment by Pamela — 12:32 pm March 12, 2014 #

  30. We are so saddened by the sudden loss of Michael
    He was a good friend and always took care of us for our printing needs here at Husky Deli with a smile and clever quote on his emails
    We were blessed to know him as long as he was here
    You know he hustled to get our orders to us and just did a great job
    Jack Miller and the Husky Deli Crew

    Comment by Jack Miller — 1:02 pm March 12, 2014 #

  31. I am so sorry to hear this. He was a wonderful, kind, sweet man.

    Comment by pamela phillips-blevins — 1:47 pm March 12, 2014 #

  32. I just got the call, will be in shock for a while. I have known Michael for over 15 years, doing business with him at Liberty Bell Printing, and most recently the car show. Always fun to be around. I will definitely miss our go-arounds with the huskies and the ducks. And just see him come into my store with a huge smile. He would always ask if everything was ok, asking how my daughter is doing, even though he only met her once. The world just lost a very genuine & kind friend. Michael wasn’t just one of my favorite customers, he was one of my favorite people.
    may god bless you, Michael and your family.

    Comment by Todd Imori — 3:39 pm March 12, 2014 #

  33. You were my business neighbor for 14 years. You were a fine friend. You were a gentle giant and I will miss you terribly.

    Comment by Ann — 6:03 pm March 12, 2014 #

  34. I am still in such shock about Michael. I have never known anyone with such enthusiasm about our community that didn’t grow up here! There are so many lives he touched that will never even know. When Pencil Me In For Kids started back in the 90′s he was right there with ideas, donated printing and complete support. I know he had a huge passion for the non-profit Furry Faces because of his love for animals. He had a huge giving heart! He was so involved in keeping The Junction vibrant even after he physically left his store front location. His heart still remained there and with the community. I had lunch with him in November and he was so excited to think of what the Car Show was going to continue to bring to our area! I so hope it can continue on. It meant so much to him. My sincere sympathy to all of his family and friends. This is a very sad time. He will truly be missed.
    Sue Lindblom

    Comment by Sue Lindblom — 11:29 am March 13, 2014 #

  35. I’m so sad to hear about Michael. We were his vet clinic and I was his veterinarian and took care of his kitties for many, many years. He was always happy and a true joy to interact with and discuss medicine. He loved his cats and had such a strong bond with them. They must be devastated beyond measure.
    I so fondly remember him helping me with a printing crisis and printing out some long papers for me when he was closed.
    He was simply the sweetest person and will be missed by all who knew him.
    Lien Animal Clinic

    Comment by Tim Kraabel — 11:30 am March 13, 2014 #

  36. Such a sweet guy. He’ll be terribly missed.

    Comment by Myr-myr — 11:55 am March 13, 2014 #

  37. He was kindness personified. They broke the mold…

    Comment by Ellen Cedergreen — 4:43 pm March 14, 2014 #

  38. Michael was truly one of a kind. Funny, supportive but with his own strong opinion on how things should be done. I worked with him on the Junction Association and Junction events- he was so involved and wanted a better community for all of us. Always wearing shorts in any kind of weather, always a big smile, big heart and lots of love for everyone. Much sympathy to his family; Michael we will miss you- thanks for being YOU!

    Comment by Dotty Hughes — 7:34 pm March 14, 2014 #

  39. Michael was a very creative and kind soul and will be dearly missed! He was always willing to share his creative ideas and craft on my printing projects. Thank you!

    Comment by Harlan Michael — 8:20 am March 15, 2014 #

  40. Michael’s mom just called me. He and I had been trading phone messages for over a week. We have been friends for years and co-workers in our businesses. He was like my little brother. We frequently commiserated over jobs, cats, billing… and he always left me cracking up. Not easy to keep a good man down. And he was and is a very good man. I know you Michael, you are watching us from where you are now and helping us deal with things in your own way.

    I am a better person for having known you. I bet you have a really impressive wingspan my angelic buddy. I will miss you… every day.

    Comment by Sy Novak — 1:28 pm March 15, 2014 #

  41. I should note here that Howden-Kennedy in West Seattle is handling arrangements for Mr. Hoffman’s memorial – there has been talk of early April but no finalized date that we have heard. There is a placeholder page on the H-K website, and we will publish an update when we get official word.
    .
    http://www.howden-kennedy.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2453453&fh_id=10535
    .
    Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 1:37 pm March 15, 2014 #

  42. Michael was one of Furry Faces’ co-founders and original Board members. He was a creative, funny, very supportive member of Furry Faces and we are struggling with how to share our feelings about his passing. Extreme sorrow; disbelief; there are no accurate words.

    We have been talking with his parents and are all thinking about how best to honor Michael, in a very public, permanent manner.

    His parents are very touched by, and appreciate everyone’s kind comments here on WSB.

    Lastly, for those that know Lea and Gimli, Michael’s two fur-kids, they are now living with Michael’s parents and are doing well.

    Comment by furryfaces — 1:30 pm March 19, 2014 #

  43. I am very saddened by the news of Michael’s passing. He has been a friend and and business associate of mine for almost 20 years. My staff and I were always glad to see him…he often visited us accompanied by a large box of assorted donuts!
    His kindness was only surpassed by his ability to scatter joy wherever he went. We will miss you Michael. God Speed. Love Jody and all the friends at Bergsma.

    Comment by Jody — 4:50 pm March 31, 2014 #

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