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Born in Dallas, Texas, Hoffman graduated from the St. Mark's School of Texas in 1965. While a senior at Harvard, he was one of the three editors of The Harvard Lampoon who went on to co-found the National Lampoon in 1970. He served as its first managing editor before attending the Harvard Business School as a Baker Scholar.
After graduation from business school, Hoffman joined his father, Edmund, in the company that became the Coca Cola Bottling Group (Southwest) Inc. The two helped build it into the country's fifth-largest Coca-Cola bottler before selling it in 1998. He chaired the Dallas Plan, a 30-year blueprint for reshaping the city of Dallas unanimously adopted by the City Council in December 1994, and served as board chairman of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society for a critical five years ending in 1992.
After selling his share in National Lampoon in 1975 and using the proceeds to buy a Helen Frankenthaler painting, Hoffman amassed a world-renowned art collection that he and his wife, Marguerite, a former gallery director, donated in nearly its entirely to the Dallas Museum of Art in 2005. The 224 pieces were valued at a minimum of $150 million. That gift, coupled with the Hoffmans' role in spearheading additional bequests of 550 objects from friends Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and Deedie and Rusty Rose, put them on Business Week magazine's list of the top 50 philanthropists for 2005. Marguerite and Robert were awarded the 2006 TACA Neiman Marcus Silver Cup Award for their civic contributions. This was the first time in TACA's history that a couple won the award.
The couple raised three daughters, Hannah and Augusta who are the daughters of Hoffman and wife Sally Timberlake Hoffman and Kate, who all attended The Hockaday School. Hoffman died of leukemia in Dallas at age 59. Because of Robert's influential efforts at the St. Mark's School of Texas, a large donation was given in his name in order to build a new building.
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