Characters of the Village
By Brian and Joy Pape
It is a special honor for me to interview Tony Hoffmann, because my history with Tony goes way back, perhaps further than even Tony remembers. A true New Yorker even though he was born in London, England and lived for a few years in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was raised in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. He has given back to his city many-fold. In the summer of ‘67, my older brother Jim took me on a long road trip from our home in Wisconsin to the Montreal Expo. We stopped in to see his college buddy Tony Hoffman in NYC. I saw the city sights for the first time, and got to taste yogurt for the first time–Dannon with fruit at bottom. (It’s possible we met even earlier, when Tony, Jim, and I were attending The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) in 1965, and would hang out at the Pub or Union together?) When I graduated from college and moved to New York City with no job or money, it was Tony who generously offered to share his 13th Street apartment with me during the summer of ‘69. Tony is the kindest gentleman I know.
Tony, how long have you lived in the Village?
I moved to the Village in 1968 to an apartment on 13th Street and Seventh Avenue. I lived there until I got married to Nadine, who would have nothing to do with that apartment, so we moved to an apartment on the corner of 10th Street and Greenwich Street. Then, when we adopted our son Jason, we moved again, to a two-bedroom apartment on Bank Street where we still live, and we are still happily married. All of the apartments are in the West Village, always the WV. I semi-retired in 2003 and I have been working from home ever since. When our son moved out, I converted his bedroom into my office.
What was your career before you semi-retired?
I was an educator in high school mathematics at Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College, Queens, and then an assistant principal there. The high school served many at-risk students but allowed them to gain high school diplomas along with college credits.
When I semi-retired, I stayed in education, working part time for a not-for-profit company, starting small schools locally and now national programs in education.
When I first moved to the Village, I got active with my block association until I was introduced to Village Independent Democrats Club (VID) by a friend. Over the years I have served four terms as president of the VID, ten years as the male Democratic Party District Leader for Greenwich Village, eight years on Community Board 2, and now I am the campaign chair for VID.
What are your favorite memories?
The best part of my job was seeing the kids that I taught and worked with graduate from high school. I was so proud, year after year, to see them succeed and look forward to going to college.
One of the best weekends I have had, besides my wedding day, was when our club supported Mario Cuomo for governor against Ed Koch, who came from the VID and was our popular mayor at the time. Koch had worked in opposition to the progressive causes we at VID championed, which led us to oppose him. Against all odds Mario Cuomo beat Ed Koch in an amazing upset. Many of us from the Mario Cuomo campaign went up to Albany for the January 1 swearing in of the new governor and partied all weekend.
How has the pandemic affected your life?
I am very fortunate to already have transitioned to working from home, having my wife there to share that experience, and to have survived with only mild cases of COVID, thanks to our vaccinations. Nevertheless, campaigning and petitioning for the VID was very difficult during that time when people avoided close contact or personal visits to their homes.
You have been in the Village for so long, what are your favorite restaurants?
I love going for breakfast at Bus Stop Café at the corner of Hudson and Bethune Street; it’s a great atmosphere. The VID has held its galas and I’ve had many a birthday party at Tio Pepe at 168 West 4th Street, near 6th Avenue, over the past 35 years. There is a welcoming back room for private events. Mémé at the corner of Bank and Hudson streets serves wonderful Middle Eastern food. And finally for special occasions, we love to go to Wallsé on West 11th Street and Washington Street, because of their Austrian food. My ancestors are from Austria and my parents served Austrian food when I was young, so it reminds me of my youth at home.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
Yes, I am a partisan Democrat. I believe in the values of the Democratic Party, whether it’s a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ+ rights, saving our environment, gun control, a fairer economic system, or health care for all. The only way we will get this is if the Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives. The road to this control runs through New York State. I am the lead plaintiff in the DCCC’s lawsuit against the New York State Redistricting Commission. The name of the lawsuit is Anthony S. Hoffmann vs. The New York State Redistricting Commission. The purpose of the lawsuit is to force the NYS Redistricting Commission to follow the NY State Constitution and allow for either the Commission or the NYS Legislature to draw the Congressional lines for New York State in the hope of getting a more balanced and equitable Congressional districting for New York state.
Joy and Brian Pape have enjoyed living in the West Village since 2009, are founders and regular contributors to the Village View, and are board-certified nurse practitioner and licensed architect, respectively.