Henry Hoffmeyer’s father died when he was 11, leaving his mother to care for five children under age 14 while operating a small dairy in Darlington, S.C.
All of them attended college.
“She did a great job raising us,” he said. “I don’t understand how she could afford to send me to Clemson, but she did.”
Henry, a Clemson alumnus now living in Mills River, N.C. – along with his wife, Polly – are now intent on helping other single-parent families afford college. They are creating an endowment for Clemson’s School of Nursing to support tuition costs for students from Henderson County, N.C. Preference will be given to students from single-parent families.
“Not many students from Henderson County come to the School of Nursing because of the out-of-state tuition,” Henry said. “So I decided I would try to encourage some students to come to Clemson by helping them and giving them scholarships.”
It wasn’t difficult for the Hoffmeyers to choose Clemson as a beneficiary of their generosity. Henry’s Clemson roots run deep – even to the university’s first days.
Henry’s grandfather was a member of Clemson’s first freshman class in 1893, and every subsequent generation has had a member attend Clemson. His father, Henry G.G. Hoffmeyer, graduated in 1919; his uncle, Herman F.L. Hoffmeyer, graduated in 1921; he graduated in 1956; his daughter, Suzanne Hoffmeyer O’Donnell, graduated in 1985; and his granddaughter, Elizabeth O’Donnell, will begin studies at Clemson in January.
“My family has been so involved in Clemson,” Henry said. “So I just feel like every student should come to Clemson.”
The Hoffmeyers’ interest in nursing came through relationships with dear family members. Henry’s sister, Lucy, graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina. His granddaughter is also interested in a nursing career, which brought Clemson’s nursing program to his attention.
“I found out that (the School of Nursing) is one of the top nursing schools in the country,” Henry said.
In learning about the School of Nursing, he not only discovered its excellence but also its impact on health care. “When I look at the need for nurses, there will be a great shortage of nurses in the future,” he said. “I just want to help get more students involved in nursing, because there is a great need for that.”
Henry spent his childhood in Darlington going to school and working in the family dairy. After graduating from Clemson and serving in the U.S. Army, he began full-time work with Southern Bell, where he served college summers as a lineman.
During his career, Hoffmeyer attended the Bell System Regional School at Clemson, where he studied communications engineering.
“During the 1960s, the Bell System held this school at about six schools across the country, including Clemson,” Hoffmeyer said. “The school lasted a year, with us attending for a month every other month. We stayed at the Clemson House. I finished on August 27, 1964.”
Hoffmeyer worked in management positions with the company for almost 40 years, retiring in 1993. He and Polly, his high school sweetheart, have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
“I’ve been blessed in my life, and I’d like to give back,” Henry said. “This is a small way I can help nursing students from North Carolina attend Clemson, because I think it is a wonderful institution.”
Because of Henry and Polly Hoffmeyer and their commitment to Clemson, students will be given the opportunity to follow their dreams of becoming nurses. Donors like the Hoffmeyers are what keep this beloved University thriving. Our students excel far beyond their time at Clemson because of the support and dedication of our generous donors.