1946 – 2021                                                      (Picture courtesy of John Desira)

   Thanks to Michelle and Bev Hofman for much of the written information, and the pictures used in this article.

The late John Hofman was a passionate pigeon man, a quiet achiever, a leading stud operator, and arguably one of the most successful General Secretaries in the modern history of the South Australian Homing Pigeon association.

He served on the SAHPA Committee in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with Chairman Bill Walford, and committee members  Alan Thede, Ken Pridham,  Greg Hodgins,  Ross Chapman,  Jack Aldritt,  Ian Cameron and Rob Caesarowicz.

Hofman  appeared to outsiders as quiet and somewhat withdrawn, but he was a highly competent secretary and went quietly about his business –  the perfect foil for Walford who was used to having  things done his way.

He was a private man and not the kind of person you could get to know easily, but those that became his friends remained friends for life.

John’s life-long association with racing pigeons began in 1959 when his brother Greg brought home a pair of pigeons.

He raced with the Peterhead, Osborne and Lefevre Penninsula Clubs , before moving from Peterhead to St Agnes in 1975.

John joined the  Tea Tree Gully Club two years later … and flew there for 20 years.

One of the most important contributions Hofman made as General secretary along with Walford and Caesarowicz was to get the Port Adelaide and Southern Feds to join the SAHPA.

It created greater strength in the States pigeon racing fraternity along with major economic benefits.

Hoffman and Walford -with the backing of their com – also introduced three lines of flight to cater for the inclusion of the two Feds.

They flew NW, North, and North-East lines on a three weekly change.

The era was one of major change and John Hofman – like so many officials do – voluntarily devoted hundred of hours to improve the sport.

Hofman was an avid writer and several of  of his articles can be found in the SAHPA archives, including a look back at the early days of pigeon racing and its many characters.

In 1990 John and his wife Bev set up the Ponderosa Australia Stud and imported and bred from pigeons from the UK Ponderosa.

The Adelaide based stud was highly successful and its blood still runs through many Australian lofts today.

John and Bev ran the Stud until 2003, when it was sold with Bev starting to suffer health issues associated with pigeon dust.

Being only 57 at the time John thought it was too early to retire so the following year he started working  for AQIS as a grain inspector, and stayed there until his retirement in 2015.

He and Bev moved back into to the western suburbs to be closer to Bev’s family.

John raced in the name of John Hofman, Hofman and Evans and J & M Hofman, winning many certificates.

His daughter Michelle remembers some times going top the clubrooms on some Friday nights, or the Association on some Saturdays.

They weren’t too young- girl friendly, and John sometimes had to give the eye to flyers every now and then when it got a bit rough.

When younger Michelle used to earn pocket money feeding the pigeons if  her father had to go to work.

Overcoming her fear of spiders she would go into the darkened shed, carefully measuring grain from the each of the three silo type containers, add a quantity of a special oil mixture, and then combine it altogether before filling up the hoppers.

There was much excitement when John won or placed in a race as Michelle would get half the prize money, for pretty much no effort at all.

She also helped type up the club certificates – sometimes up to a hundred a week –  getting paid for each one.

The phone always ran hot in the Hofman home at St Agnes, with John busy from around 7am reciting details of the release, or lack thereof in bad weather.

He would then go down to the loft, with Michelle and Bev taking the phone calls – and reciting back the release details rather than calling John back from the loft.

And when technology advanced with the introduction of the cordless phone John was able to do a lot more pigeon talking from the back yard.

When John had to work on weekends  Michelle and Bev were left in charge clocking in the birds.

There were occasions where they were distracted with birds dropping into the trap – causing  a mad rush to the loft to remove leg rubbers … but luckily it never cost a big or important race.

Whenever Michelle is asked what her father was like the first words that come to mind are quiet, homely, and  funny with an amazing attention to detail.

His quiet trait wasn’t shyness, rather he sat back, taking things in.

He was complex, and an  introvert without being introverted.

In the years that John spent involved in racing pigeons he pretty much held most  public positions at club and association level, working with some very strong personalities and big opinions.

John didn’t like conflict so there must have been times when it was a really hard to do job.

He wasn ‘t known for a love of travel but enjoyed and made the most of when he was away.

John loved his home and was perfectly content in his home surroundings.

Most of the Hofman’s early travels were road trips around Australia, mainly Victoria and New South Wales – and mainly to meet up with other pigeon fanciers.

In Michelles teenage years and into adulthood the trips extended further abroad.

Firstly Singapore, then thanks to the Ponderosa Stud, the UK, Netherlands and New Zealand.

John helped co-fund Bev and Michelle to go to Italy and the UK, and he did subsequent  trips back to the Europe with Bev and some pigeon fancier friends.

He had a dry sense of humour and enjoyed telling and receiving jokes.

At home John would be sitting quietly or walk in the room from another and just and tell some random joke when you would least expect it

He was out quite a bit at night between shift work and pigeons, but Michelle remembers him loving slapstick comedy including The Benny Hill Show, the Two Ronnies, and Allo Allo – with the latter combining his type of humour with wartime television  content.

John had lists pretty much for everything, probably due to his years  of cross checking everything at work and with the pigeon Association.

A Port Adelaide football fan – he even wrote out the Power’s entire season fixture and updated it weekly with the results.

It was something he could probably have got a lot quicker and easier from there internet.

He wrote many pigeon articles that were published throughout the years and it was something he did up until the middle of last year when his final piece was published in the Advertiser.

John spent a lot of time in his back room – with the family thinking he was playing cards on the computer – but he would often surprise by emerging with a newly written piece on his beloved life long sport.

He loved everything about the Port Adelaide area where he spent most of his working life and loved taking visitors down to the silos and wharfs to talk about its history.

Michelle says her father brought a stoic stability to their lives.