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1934 Milton 2023

Milton Hoff

January 16, 1934 — May 17, 2023

Milton John Hoff, 89, of Grand Forks, passed and completed his earthly travels and adventures on May 17, 2023.   Milt was born in Tuttle, North Dakota to John and Katherine (Krein) Hoff.  He was a true German from Russia as both of his parents came to the United States from Russia as young children and only German was spoken in his home.  He spent much of his childhood with his grandparents while his parents worked to provide for the family.  English was learned when he attended school – repeating the first year once he was able to communicate with the teacher, who only spoke English.  He attended school in Tuttle and Dawson, graduating in 1952 as Valedictorian.  

 After high school, he moved to Moorhead to attend Concordia College.  He worked at Kiefer Chevrolet and Firestone Tire and sang in the Concordia Chapel Choir before completing his degree in 1956.  One Sunday, showing up for church at the wrong time, he met his soulmate - Janis Lorraine Backe.  Milt and Jan were married on June 16, 1956 and began their travels immediately with a move to Chicago where he worked at Hartford Fire Insurance Company in the Wrigley Building.  

Milt and Jan returned to the area and Milt taught English, German and Social Studies in Herman, Warren and Moorhead, and coached baseball and wrestling.  During this time, a daughter, Sandra, was born in 1961. Milt attended NDSU, obtaining a Masters in Education in 1964 while working as a Graduate Assistant.  Milt took an interest in home construction and built the first two of their homes.  He next worked as a Graduate Assistant at UND and obtained his Doctorate in Education in 1970.  A trip to Europe for research on his thesis about comparative educational systems spurred a love for travel which would have to wait during the busy working years.  His next move took him to St. Cloud State University as an Assistant Professor for two years, and another home built there.  

 In 1975 he accepted a position as principal of Franklin Middle School in Thief River Falls, which became home for many years and saw the construction of the next seven homes as he continued his love of building and wood working.  With school finally behind him, Milt could also enjoy other hobbies and activities as well, including coin collecting, running, cross-country skiing, bridge, volleyball group, Rotary, Elks, various community boards and church choir - making wonderful friendships and great memories.  He and Jan also opened a women’s clothing store called The Mercantile Company.  He loved his work as a principal and the office staff at Franklin became like family.  He was awarded a Bush fellowship and attended their leadership program, and also sold VALIC insurance.  Retirement from his role as principal was followed by a move to East Grand Forks (and of course another home built) and an opportunity to develop middle school curriculum and teach at UND until his full retirement.  

Milt and Jan spent several years traveling to warmer climates before settling on Fountain Hills, AZ as their new home, enjoying new friends and activities including bridge, social and church activities.  Travel became a huge part of their retirement as they enjoyed visiting about 30 countries, often on cruises, with Greece being a favorite.  In 2016, they returned to Grand Forks to be close to family and continued to make many moves here.  Roles reversed and Milt became the caregiver for Jan in her last years, never wanting to leave her side. After Jan passed in 2020, Milt made some of his last moves, finding warm and compassionate care at Edgewood Vista and Valley Transitions.

 Milt loved to sing and Jan would accompany him at home, as well as at church and other events.  He was fascinated by investing in the stock market and loved a good cup of coffee and a great discussion – about anything he wanted to talk about!  His former middle school students would remember him for his locker dumps during the last week of school - where he collected his next year’s worth of shaving cream - and for being a strict disciplinarian but also for investigating the truth behind a student’s problems and working to create programs for student success.  Anyone who knew Milt was aware of his love of building houses, coin collecting and new cars.  

Most did not know his other more philosophical side that included a love of poetry, with one of his favorites being Robert Frost.  Milt often took the road less traveled and lived his life fully through the places his life’s road took him and the people he encountered. 

Milton is survived by daughter Sandra (Timothy) Dittus, and granddaughters Johanna and Christina as well as sisters-in-law Arlene (Bill) Kardoes, Kathryn Trill and Carol (Ric) Hallquist, and many nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Janis, parents, in-laws, sisters, brother and their spouses, and brother-in-law Robert Trill.  

Private family services will be held at a later date. 



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