Henry Hoffmeyer’s father died when he was 11, leaving his mother to care for five children under age 14 while operating a small dairy in Darlington.
And all of them attended college. “She did a great job raising us,” he said. “I don’t understand how she could afford to send me to Clemson, but she did.” Hoffmeyer and his late wife Polly of Mills River, N.C., wanted to help other single-parent families afford college. They created an endowment for the School of Nursing to support tuition costs for students from Henderson County, N.C., with preference given to students from single-parent families.
“Not many students from Henderson County come to the School of Nursing because of the out-of-state tuition,” Hoffmeyer said. “So I decided I would try to encourage some students to come to Clemson by helping them and giving them scholarships.”
It wasn’t difficult for the Hoffmeyers to choose Clemson as a beneficiary of their generosity. His Clemson roots run deep — even to the University’s first days. Hoffmeyer’s grandfather was a member of Clemson’s first freshman class in 1893, and every subsequent generation has had a member attend Clemson. His father, Henry G.G. Hoffmeyer, graduated in 1919; his uncle, Herman F.L. Hoffmeyer, graduated in 1921; he graduated in 1956; his daughter, Suzanne Hoffmeyer O’Donnell, graduated in 1985; and his granddaughter, Elizabeth O’Donnell, began studies this year.
The Hoffmeyers’ interest in nursing came through relationships with family members. Hoffmeyer’s sister graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina. His granddaughter is also interested in a nursing career, which brought Clemson’s nursing program to his attention.“When I look at the need for nurses, there will be a great shortage of nurses in the future,” he said. “I just want to help get more students involved in nursing, because there is a great need for that.”
Hoffmeyer worked in management positions with Southern Bell for almost 40 years, retiring in 1993. The Hoffmeyers have three daughters and seven grandchildren. “I’ve been blessed in my life, and I’d like to give back,” Henry said. “This is a small way I can help nursing students from North Carolina attend Clemson, because I think it is a wonderful institution.”