White Sox honor Army veteran, former principal with 'Hero of the Game' after cancer death

'He thought his life's work was to spark smiles and empower other people': Wayne Hoffman's son

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Army veteran honored at White Sox game after cancer death
US Army veteran and former Chicago school principal Wayne Hoffman was honored at a White Sox game. He died earlier this month after battling cancer.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The White Sox honored an Army veteran and former school principal as the "Hero of the Game" on Saturday night.

Wayne Hoffman served during the Korean War, and later as the head of Jensen Scholastic Academy on the city's West Side. He died earlier this month after battling cancer.

But, on Saturday, the Sox welcomed Wayne's family on the field in tribute to his lifelong service to the country, and commitment to community.

"Our father inspired other people to lead their best lives. That's what he wanted. And, he thought his life's work was to spark smiles and empower other people," said Andrew Hoffman, Wayne's son. "He cared only about other people. So, when we were out there and felt all that love and affection, we knew that was for him, because he brought so much joy and smiles and love and song to other people's hearts for all his life."

Wayne's children said he made a lasting impact on others with his positive attitude and putting others before himself, and that his legacy is one of optimism and empowering others.

"When he was a principal, he would greet every single child when they came in with a thumbs up and, 'you're a winner.' And a lot of his old students remember him for that," said Mary Jo Mikottis, Wayne's daughter.

"They felt they were special, and he made sure they had the best education possible," added Andrew Hoffman, Wayne's son. "He believed everyone deserved a chance, no matter where they were from. And, he was committed to that from the beginning of his life."

But, perhaps more importantly, he was a family man who raised four children with his wife of almost 70 years.

"He was just the kind of person that believed in people, and I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. He accepted people as they are. He had a great sense of humor. I loved his laugh," said Tommye Hoffman, Wayne's wife.

Wayne's wife and kids were overwhelmed by the crowd's support on Saturday.

"What made it difficult is that, we really expected him to be here for this. I'm sure he's looking over us right now and proud of his family," Andrew said.

A passionate Sox fan, Hoffman cried when the Sox won the World Series in 2005.

"It was really special because he wanted it so bad. He was just a huge Sox fan. It was bittersweet. Mostly sweet though," Mary Jo said. "When the Sox were winning, no one could show more joy than he did."