Barry and Jackie Hoffner in India.
Barry and Jackie Hoffner in India.

Marin man’s memoir recounts love for his late wife and their adventures

The books section is supported by a generous donation from Anne Germanacos

Barry Hoffner wasn’t trying to write a book. He had just dropped off his younger son at college for the first time, and his thoughts were full of his wife, Jackie, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 55.

“It was going to be the start of my empty nesting years, so to speak,” the Sausalito resident said. “I decided to write my boys a letter.”

Now Hoffner is presenting the book he ended up writing, “I Fell in Love with Your Mom on a Bus in India,” at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Dec. 1 at 1 p.m.

The 252-page book, subtitled “A Memoir of Love, Adventure, and Family,” recounts his own recollections of Jackie, an animal activist, including highlights of a few years they spent backpacking the world, in which they went from college friends to lovers.

Hoffner said the book, published in September, would have stayed a private letter if he hadn’t made a discovery.

“On Yom Kippur 2018, I was going through some of her stuff,” he said. “And I found her diaries.”

Combining his own memories with words from Jackie, the book describes their time together, including the overnight bus ride from Dharamshala to Agra, in India, when Barry realized he was in love. He even has a photo, which is on the book cover, of that first day.

Jackie Hoffner was born Jackie Holmes in 1962. She was killed in 2017 by an elephant in Botswana, a place she was visiting because of her longstanding commitment to wildlife preservation. Known for her love for animals, she volunteered with S.F.-based organization WildAid, which works to end the illegal trade in ivory. The 1,100-acre ranch that the Hoffners owned in Cloverdale was maintained as a “wildlife corridor,” land linking areas of natural habitat for local foxes, wild pigs, turkeys, deer, mountain lions, bobcats and bears.

After his wife’s death, Barry and his sons Benjamin and Daniel set up an endowment and an award in her honor at Brandeis Marin, which the Hoffner boys attended and where Jackie was a teacher’s assistant for two years.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.