Joseph Hoffman was born in Toledo, WA, and graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1960. He started his printing career in 1959, working for Ralph Leber Ink Company as a delivery driver. In 1961 Joe began his six-year apprenticeship at Abbott, Kerns & Bell, working closely with mentors Roy Smith and Alfred Luthy. The apprenticeship program, under The Multnomah Typographic Union (No. 58 of the International Typographical Union), involved four years of overall education in the printing trade and then two years of specialization.
When Abbott, Kerns & Bell was acquired by Paul O. Giesey in 1966, Joe continued his career as a Journeyman Compositor with the company. Although he worked primarily as a typesetter and a Monotype casterman, Joe was known as a “go-to guy” because of his general knowledge of all the equipment in the plant. He did the full range of floor work, from hand typesetting to copy imposition and proofing, operating both Monotype Composition casters and the Elrod strip caster, and serving as the machinist for the casting machines. As technology changed, Joe made the transition to stripping film negatives, making color separations, operating photo compositors, and burning final plates for offset reproduction. He spent ten years as the head-camera man in the Giesey camera dept., before taking over the VIP output devices from Master Craftsman Alfred Luthy in 1982.
In 1990, after the switch to cold type, Joe left to work for Schlegal Typesetting and then Oregon Catholic Press, where he operated photo composition equipment until his retirement in 2006. The printing trade provided him with a livable income from 1961 to 2006, with no interruption of employment. Joe went from one job to the next without missing a day. He only changed jobs twice in his career, and worked for what he considered three of the best employers in Portland’s printing industry. In his 47 years of employment, Joe called-in sick only once.