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April 1, 2019

Faces of Fauquier: He gets time “to enjoy community”

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“We wanted to be in a place where we could be part of a community and contribute to a community,” Tim Hoffman says of the decision he and his wife made to move to Fauquier.
I’m all about individuals, helping individuals. I’m not so much about redistribution of public money, but I do think it’s important to give individuals opportunities, not results.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The former Army colonel and federal government worker couldn’t wait to flee the Northern Virginia rat race.

“When you exist in suburbia, there’s a detachment from the community you live in and work,” explained Tim Hoffman, who with his wife Patti moved to Vint Hill near New Baltimore about 5-1/2 years ago. “You’re so involved with commuting and work; you don’t have any time to enjoy the community.”

He also had gotten fed up with a lifestyle that required a car to go anywhere or do anything, Mr. Hoffman, 67, added.

He and his wife Patti, 70, decided they wanted out of Fairfax.

“I said to myself, ‘This is not normal’,” Mr. Hoffman recalled. “ ‘I don’t want this anymore. When I have the chance to retire, we’re going to go to a place where I can walk to get a cup of coffee, I can walk to the post office. If I want to go across the street to the pub to have a beer with my friends, I can walk to the pub’.”

The avid cyclist knew about Fauquier because he has biked the area for about 20 years.

Vint Hill appealed to them because it offered services — a post office, barbershop, café, brewery, a gym and community theater — that they wanted within walking distance.

“We were looking for a place that looked like a town,” said Mr. Hoffman, an exercise enthusiast who in 2016 cycled from Astoria, Ore., to Yorktown and this year expects to log 5,000 miles on his bike. “We wanted to be in a place where we could be part of a community and contribute to a community.”

After 29 years in uniform, the West Point graduate retired from the Army in 2002 as plans director of the U.S. Office of the Undersecretary of Defense. With just a two-day break, he continued to perform the same duties as a civilian with agency.

For the next dozen years, Mr. Hoffman held various high-level government planning and policy positions, routinely working 10- to 14-hour days, sometimes six and seven days a week.

The couple moved to Vint Hill in 2013; he retired from the federal government the following year.

Retirement has allowed him to fulfill a long-time ambition — the chance to volunteer.

Mr. Hoffman serves as president of the Vint Hill Homeowners Association and on a Route 29 citizens’ advisory panel, which since August has studied ways to improve safety, traffic flow and access along an approximately three-mile stretch of the busy highway between New Baltimore and Vint Hill Road.

• Age
67

• Home 
Vint Hill, near New Baltimore

• Military service
Retired Army colonel, 1973-2002.

• Work: Held high-level, defense-related planning and strategy positions with various federal government agencies, 2002-14.

• Why do you volunteer?
I’ve benefited from other people doing this. It’s my turn to pay it forward.

• Family
Wife Patti, 70; 2 daughters, and 2 grandsons.

• Education
Master’s degree, philosophy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1981; bachelor’s degree, engineering, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., 1973; Highland Falls (N.Y.) High School, 1969.

• Civic involvement
President, Vint Hill Homeowners Association, 2018-present; Route 29 citizens’ advisory panel, 2018-present.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About 5-1/2 years.

• Why do you live here? 
The people are nice, civic-minded. Vint Hill’s walkable — a place where you can walk your dog, say “Hi” to the neighbors, go down to the coffee shop; everybody knows you by your first name. We can get to places. If we want to go big-box shopping, we can there in 15 minutes. If we want to go to downtown (Warrenton) to a nice restaurant, we can go that way in 15 minutes.

• How do you describe this county? 
Rural and beautiful, with just enough civilization, enough charm to attract the right amount of people and to have things for us to do and stay in the county.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
We could use a couple more nice restaurants. We could use a movie theater.

I would like it if we had some more draws for Main Street (Warrenton), which is a charming main street. But there aren’t that many reasons for me to go shop downtown.

In Vint Hill, I’d like to see a small town center, with a drug store, dry cleaner, maybe a small food mart, where you could get milk. But we have a dilemma. On the one hand, you want to keep the community nice and small. In order to get a lot of those things, you’ve got to have the population to support it. So there’s a balancing act. And, I realize that.

• What do you do for fun? 
Ride my bike, read, refinish furniture.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Claire’s at the Depot.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
Slightly more developed. We’re really going to face increasing pressure — development encroachment from Prince William. And, it’s going to be very hard to resist.

• Favorite TV show?
Lately, “Nurse Jackie.” It’s pretty good. It’s got a lot of humor in it.

• Favorite movie? 
“Inception.”

• Favorite book?
Not one book really. I’ve been reading lately on the origin of the universe by a guy named Brian Greene. The other things I’m reading is the founding fathers — “The Federalist Papers,” the anti-federalist papers, deTocqueville.

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Utah. We’ve done all the national parks. I’m a big fan of our national parks.

• Favorite food? 
Really good Tex-Mex.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My high school football coach. He convinced us if you can take pride in what you’re doing to a high standard, you hustle all the time and you have the desire to get better, you’ll be OK.

So, I’ve tried to live by the PHD (pride, hustle and desire) credo all these years. Some of us are hugely talented. Some of us are less talented. Some don’t have talent at all. I was never a natural at anything I did. But, if I worked hard enough, I could be pretty good.

• Who’s your hero and why?
Col. Barry Keck.  Barry was my battalion commander from 1986 to 1988. He personally modeled for me what it is to be a good leader. He knew how to motivate soldiers to achieve their best; he was a great tactician; he was a terrific teacher and mentor, and he personally made me a better soldier and leader than I was before our paths crossed.
 
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
I’d probably give a lot of it to charity — to Wounded Warriors, who need a lot of help right now. Probably to my alma mater (West Point).

There are a lot of social needs for the poor people in the county. I’d try to set up something that might help kids get a better education, find a job. I think that’s important. I’m all about individuals, helping individuals. I’m not so much about redistribution of public money, but I do think it’s important to give individuals opportunities, not results.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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