Betty S. Hoffenberg, a long-time Pacific Palisades resident, former U.S. Treasury Department employee, attorney and supporter of social justice causes, died peacefully on October 26.
“Amah,” as her grandchildren called her, was born in New York City in 1922. She lived in the Palisades twice—in the early 1950s and then from 1963 onwards. She was a regular fixture around town—participating in the No-Oil Campaign and the local League of Women Voters, enjoying the beach at the foot of Temescal and steaming hot dogs at St. Matthew’s School on Fridays.
She could be seen wearing a red hat riding atop the Wells Fargo stagecoach at the annual 4th of July Parade. She was full of opinions, humor, curiosity, dignity, intellectual energy and a commitment to social justice. That commitment found expression in volunteer work and charitable contributions to a host of organizations.
Betty loved being in the water, whether in the warm waters with her beloved trio of grandkids in front of her favorite hotel in Waikiki or performing water aerobics in the not-so warm water at PaliHi up until a few weeks ago.
Betty came from a long line of American Jews, originally from Germany. Betty was very proud of her Jewish-American roots, and images and books from that legacy were all around the family house in Pacific Palisades.
After attending public school and Julia Richmond High, Betty went to Swarthmore College and graduated with Magna Cum Laude Honors in 1943 with a major in Economics major and a double minor in History and Political Science.
Betty spent time in Washington, D.C. working for various individuals, offices and then the Treasury Department. She also completed her M.A. in Economics from Columbia, where she had garnered the Edward H. Perkins Fellowship for 1946-47.
What made her time in D.C. all the more enjoyable was her courtship with Marvin Hoffenberg, who passed away December 2012. “He was cute,” she said of the guy from Erie, PA, who smoked a pipe and knew a lot about economics and statistics. Betty and Marvin were married July 20, 1947 and settled in the D.C. area.
Betty and Marvin made the cross-country trip twice. David was born at St. John’s in Santa Monica in 1953 when Marvin worked for Rand, and Peter in 1960 at GW hospital at Foggy Bottom in D.C. Betty loved California and never quite adjusted to D.C. When Marvin scored a job, they moved out here.
Life in the Palisades meant reunions with old friends and making many new ones. Betty’s life included UCLA Economics and Political Science Department gatherings, famous New Year’s Eve parties, many UCLA basketball games, swimming at the old Sunset Center, tennis at Palisades Park, connections with the various elementary and high schools, and stints as a docent and employee around UCLA. She spent most Sundays at a beach between the Will Rogers and Zuma lifeguard towers.
Betty was born to go to law school. She was accepted at George Washington University Law School in the late 1940s but did not attend. She finally did go to law school at the age of 66 at the University of West Los Angeles. Betty practiced a bit, doing legal research here and there.
Later years were spent a bit more quietly with Marvin and friends. More recently, they were spent with the care, love and friendship of Lani, who many in the Palisades came to know. She made Marvin and Betty’s final years as comfortable, enjoyable and fulfilling as humanly possible.
The past three or four years were filled with texted photos of Betty and Marvin, then Betty, at the beach, at a fundraising dinner, eating Filipino food, following a lecture, and enjoying their final days together.
Betty is survived by her two sons, David Hoffenberg of Oxnard and Peter Hoffenberg of Honolulu; her daughter–in-law, Saundra C. Schwartz; and three grandchildren, Elena, Libby and Judah. Memorial services were held at Hillside Mortuary on November 3. In lieu of flowers, Betty’s family requests a donation in her name to: The Inner City Law Center, 1309 East Seventh Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021, (213) 891-3203.