This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration working to name and celebrate the life of every New Jersey resident who died of COVID-19. To learn moreandsubmit a loved one's name to be profiled, visit lovedandlostnj.com.
Harriet Shepardson Hohman felt most at home on a stage. She caught the acting bug from her father, an amateur performer, and made her theater debut as a teenage Joan of Arc.
Over the next decades, as she moved from Hawaii to Missouri to New York City and finally to Ridgewood, Harriet found a stage to act on. Her favorite was at the West Side Presbyterian Church, where she starred in and directed myriad Hillside Players Company productions.
Harriet Hohman earlier this year(Photo: Courtesy of the Hohman family)
She lived in Ridgewood for 50 years but never bought a home there, preferring to rent. The church was the cornerstone of her existence, said Elizabeth Poole, her daughter.
That was her great love in life, Elizabeth said. Theater and performing.
Harriet died on March 31 at 94.
Born in Vermont, she grew up in an old Honolulu bungalow affectionately called Termite Terrace. The house sat high on a hill with a view of Pearl Harbor. Harriet was getting ready to teach Sunday school on December 7, 1941 when bombs started falling.
Harriet Hohman in her high school portrait when she was 17.(Photo: Courtesy of the Hohman family.)
I saw the planes zooming in from the ocean, heard explosions and saw billows of smoke, she wrote in an account of the Japanese attack. I saw a plane drop a bomb which hit the Catholic Bishops house not far from us I remember seeing that big red sun on the planes wings as it flew over.
The experience and its aftermath left a lasting impression on Harriet. She later shared her memories with groups of history buffs.
Loved and Lost: Portraits of our family, friends and neighbors taken by coronavirus
Harriet met her husband, Charles Hohman, a soldier stationed in Hawaii, while dancing and performing for the troops. They shared a passion for theater and later shared the stage in the hit Broadway show No Time for Sergeants.
The Hohmans welcomed twins in 1959, and then divorced. Harriet worked as a comptroller for the New York City Police Benevolent Association and the Hotel Trades Council while raising her children as a single mother.
Harriet Hohman, seated on desk, plays Joan of Arc in high school.(Photo: Courtesy of the Hohman family)
Harriet was good at numbers and performing but liked to say she was best at being a good friend. She had an eternal optimism that drew people to her, her daughter said.
She lived in the moment. She never bought a thing, she was almost like a transient by spirit, Elizabeth said. She used to say that it was kind of a negative quality, but I think she was like a child in a way, she was just excited to be alive and learn something new every day.
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