Patricia “Patty” Stancliff Hofto, 88, passed away peacefully due to kidney failure last Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at Sheridan Memorial Hospital where she was surrounded by her dear friends. Patty, originally of Hartford, CT, graced the inhabitants of Sheridan, WY with her lovely presence for 27 years. She was the widow of retired naval pilot, Captain Leslie “Les” Hofto, from Dutton, MT (son of wheat farmers) whom she married on April 12, 1954 after meeting at the officer’s club in Rhode Island. Besides Les, those who preceded her in death include her mother, Margret Napior (homemaker and artist), father, Francis Henry Stancliff (manager in insurance), and sister, Elizabeth. She is survived by her devoted niece, Debbie Payne, and the many neighbors and friends who cherished her.
When Les brought Patty back out west to settle in Sheridan, she fell in love its wide open spaces and the granite peaks that her cliff-side home faced. Her Eastern manners and vibrant personality made Patty stand out from the crowd. She (and Les) were a regulars at Oliver’s/Frackleton’s where anyone who saw her would agree, if ever there had been a lady who embodied good breeding and elegant, western style, it was she. Patty had that special sort of class from a bygone era like many others from her time and place did. At any point in the day you could find Patty well dressed with her hair, makeup, and nails perfectly done. Before Les captured her heart, Patty had many suitors. So, it is no surprise that she was able to charm the likes of John Wayne with her vivacious beauty, sparkling blue eyes and bright smile. Upon being introduced to “the Duke” at a military function with her husband, he greeted her with “Hello dimples!” This was undoubtedly a moment when Les beamed with adoration and pride.
Given these qualities and the fact that she was such a gracious hostess and impeccable housekeeper, one can see why Patty was ideally suited to be an officer’s wife. With a woman like that by a man’s side, he might be able to do anything. And Les, a Korean War jet pilot, went far in his career. He received many commendations and awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while on aerial duty. Part of his career was also spent as a naval pilot instructor in Pensacola, FL.
Far from being just a pretty face, Patty was able to make strangers immediately feel at ease with her approachable manner, sharp wit, and generous heart. Consequently, she quickly made friends everywhere she went and shared her love of fresh flowers by frequently sending them to others.
Niece, Debbie, Patty’s strength and shield, remembers Patty as “the fun aunt” because she always made her visits something to look forward to. Patty and the first of the young couple’s five Golden Retrievers, Rusty, often stayed with Debbie’s family in Connecticut during Les’ long military absences. Patty was able to turn everything she did with Debbie into an adventure. One memorable highlight was when Debbie got to stay with her aunt and uncle in New York City after Les became the officer in charge of the Naval Pavilion at the World’s Fair.
Patty and Les traveled a great deal together. She also enjoyed collecting antiques and watching Fox News. As a Mayflower descendant, Patty felt a proud connection with this nation’s history. Her family also founded and operated one of the brownstone quarries along the Connecticut River.
The couple’s five Golden Retrievers were more than just beloved companions. They were family. Patty formed her love of animals on her grandmother’s farm where her sister, Elizabeth, made sure to look out for her and keep her out of trouble during their summer adventures together.
Patty was blessed with many loving neighbors who, much like her sister had done on the farm, looked out for Patty to make sure her needs were met and that she remained comfortable after Les passed away. She’d often say she considered her neighbors to be like family. She was never lonely in her last years because she enjoyed many good times and festive holidays with them. Therefore, niece, Debbie, would like to recognize their many kindnesses to show just how much she has appreciated them.
There were several knights-in-shining armor in Patty’s life. Linda Stroud often took her shopping (taking over for Terry Grasky) and to her nail appointments. They also frequently enjoyed having a bite out to eat together. Gary LeTempt saw to, among many other things, her financial and medical affairs. He remained by her side in those difficult last months of her life. David Heir did household repairs and had her over during holidays. Susan Wells, also a Navy veteran, became fast friends with the couple and was a jack-of-all-trades for Patty once Les passed. She also took over for Patty’s very special friend, Beau Chamberlain, as her Friday night dinner companion soon after Beau passed away. Beau’s parents, Steve and Jane Jennings were instrumental in her house remodel and included Patty in their family holiday celebrations. Charlie Nelson shoveled the driveway and sidewalks for Les and Patty for most of the fifteen years they lived next door to each other. On numerous occasions Charlie could be seen leaping to his feet at a moment’s notice to rescue their last “baby,” Ruby, who often broke away from her leash. One time, while barefoot, Charlie risked life and limb when Ruby went tumbling down the steep and snowy hill behind Patty’s house. Of course, this doesn’t cover everything or everyone but it gives us all a very important reminder of how it truly does “take a village.” We never get through this life alone.
There have been many friends over the years upon whom Patty left her mark, to include the employees of Devoted to Home, those sweet princesses that came to stay with Patty in her final days. Patty was a ray of sunshine in all our lives. Her cheerful presence will truly be missed.
“Friendship may not be the full measure of a man or woman, but it certainly speaks volumes.”
– Tracey L. Nelson, M.A., M.Ed.
A private ceremony was held in Sheridan with her close friends. Memorials to honor Patty may be made to Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter at 83 East Ridge Road, Sheridan, WY 82801.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.