Lynn Hoffman, ACSW
Lynn Hoffman, 1924-2017: In Memoriam
by Harlene Anderson
Grace Lynn Hoffman, Honorary Taos Associate, and a practitioner and author with endless vision, curiosity and wonderment, died at the age of 93. Most notable as a chronicler and visionary of family therapy, to her days ends and with keen mind and spirit, she gifted practitioners and theorists with her significant contributions to the development of family therapy and its influential contributions to the broader social science community. She was a colleague and studier of many seminal thinkers and later contributors to relational–systemic, social construction, and postmodern–informed practices.
Lynn was an author and word artist who carefully handcrafted her books and articles. In her engaging, eloquent yet flowing and simple storytelling style she documented and distilled complex concepts into smaller understandable ones, weaving in and illustrating her text through her own firsthand experiences.
Lynn inspired others, noticed their potential, encouraged confidence, all toward helping them bring out the best in themselves. In remembering Lynn, The Taos Institute Board of Directors express our gratitude for her being part of our community and being touched by her presence. Lynn Hoffman’s wisdom and vitality will continue to inspire and live on in the many resources she left.
Lynn Hoffman, one of the pioneers in the field of family therapy and the most lyric chronicler of its evolution, died peacefully of pneumonia on December 21, 2017, at the age of 93, in the arms of her beloved partner (the 92 year old “love of her life”), Edward McAvoy, a former New York Times distribution manager.
Born Grace Lynn Baker in Paris, 1924, she was the first of three daughters of Donald Baker and Ruth Reeves, a groundbreaking textile artist and co-creator of the American Index of Design. She was raised in New City, NY among a community of artists, attended the Dalton School in NYC on scholarship, and went on to graduate Radcliffe College, Magna Cum Laude, in 1946, first in her class. Many years later, she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Adelphi University, then practiced and taught at institutions and programs too numerous to mention.
Lynn had been married to the late Theodore Hoffman, founder of the NYU Theatre department with whom she had three daughters, who survive her: Martha, Joanna, and Livia Hoffman. Lynn was predeceased by her two sisters, Duny Katzman and Virginia Lehran.
Over the years, Lynn authored and co-authored many books, among them the seminal “Foundations of Family Therapy” (1981), and lastly, “Family Therapy, An Intimate History” (2001). She was the author of scores of influential journal articles most notable for their singular voice and the clarity with which she explained the complex postmodern ideas reshaping the field, and, indeed, the intellectual horizon. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy presented her its “Lifetime Achievement Award.” She is the subject of the film, “All Manner of Poetic Disobedience,” produced by one of her league of friends and admirers, which includes interviews with many of her colleagues around the world. It can be seen on You Tube.
As a teacher, both at formal institutions in the US, and at conferences and seminars around the world, she was an inspiring, sought after presence. With her brilliance, her exceptional kindness, and her surprising, often transgressive sense of humor, she connected with her audience (one or a thousand) in ways not easily forgotten.
The field of family therapy, along with her family, her colleagues, and the students she mentored so generously, mourn the loss of one of the last of the great pioneering luminaries. In the words of a friend and colleague: “Lynn was an artistic and literate spirit, She reached out to us with the lightest touch. Her thinking was free and original. She breathed poetry into our concerns and lightened what was otherwise painful, mundane or ordinary.”
As those who cared for Lynn at the end attest, it was only her body that failed, never her spirit or her mind. May you rest in peace, Lynn, and may your memory be a blessing for all who were graced by your touch.
Obituary – Lynn Hoffman: Family Therapy’s Gift
by Harlene Anderson Click here to read.
The Rhizome Way creates practical frameworks that generate opportunities and creative solutions within relationships, organizations, corporations and communities.
The idea of the Rhizome Way originated with the work of community therapists Christopher Kinman and Lynn Hoffman.
A 17 part video series exploring ideas, practices, theories and experiences with Lynn Hoffman
The interviews were conducted by Harlene Anderson and Chris Kinman and the project was sponsored and funded by the Taos Institute. http://www.taosinstitute.net/lynn-hoffman-videos
All Manner of Poetic Disobedience: Lynn Hoffman and the Rhizome Century
A weaver of relational webs*
by Imelda McCarthy