THEODORE HOFELLER (1854 – 1930)
Theodore Hofeller was a well-known businessman and philanthropist born on March 17, 1854 who emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1869. He attended the Buffalo schools and initially entered the clothing business. In 1881 he formed the firm of Theodore Hofeller and Company which went on to become one of the largest waste rubber companies in the world. In 1915, Mr. Hofeller became a principal owner of the Buffalo Susquehanna Railroad.
Philanthropist and Community Servant
Mr. Hofeller became interested in the Hebrew Men’s Benevolent Society and became its first Secretary and later President. On March 23, 1911, Mr. Hofeller was among a small group of men and women who met at Zion House, located on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, NY to form what at the time was known as the Federated Jewish Charities of Buffalo and presently known as our very own Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies.
In addition to serving as as the President of the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, Mr. Hofeller served as President of the Buffalo Jewish Federation. He also was a Trustee of Temple Beth Zion, and a founder of the Willowdale Country Club, a nine-hole golf course later to be known as the Westwood Country Club.
In 1881, Theodore married Fanny Levin and to their blessed union two children were born, Ms. Lillian Strauss and Mr. David Eugene Hofeller. After the death of Fanny, Mr. Hofeller married Mrs. Ida Bendheim, mother of Mrs. Eugene Warner, by a previous marriage.
The Hofeller Joy Fund
On May 16, 1917, Mr. Hofeller wrote a letter to the Board of Governors of the Federated Jewish Charities of Buffalo (The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies) establishing The Hofeller Joy Fund. Mr. Hofeller established the fund with a certificate of deposit from the Peoples Bank of Buffalo (now known as M&T Bank) in the amount of $5,000.
It was Mr. Hofeller’s direction that the income from this gift be expended for our poor; not for necessities, but for luxuries. Mr. Hofeller suggested that the income be used to purchase dolls, toys, picture books for girls and boys, for tickets to the moving picture shows, theatres or concerts for children or their elders or in any manner which would gladden the heart of a child or bring joy to a grown-up person.
Hofeller Joy Fund Video
Mr. Hofeller’s Legacy today
On December 4, 2019, members of Jewish Family Services and the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies delivered toys to patients at the Oshei Children’s Hospital, as well as children in need, including refugee families resettling in Buffalo, at a Temple Beth Zion event.
What a tremendous legacy, 90 years after his death and 102 years after making this gift, Mr. Hofeller through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies continues to bring joy to our community. An immigrant to Buffalo from the 1800’s is bringing joy to children and new immigrants to Buffalo in 2019.
A legacy is created by touching lives while one is alive. A legacy is preserved by touching lives after one has passed. Mr. Hofeller’s personal vision, mission, and purpose are just as relevant today as when he served as one of the founders of The Foundation in 1911.
The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies would be honored to assist you and your family in preserving your legacy.