Her smile was simply beautiful. The sound of her laughter, unmistakable. And she was fascinated with black bears.

About Jean

Age: 53

Community: Huger

Occupation: School bus driver

Will be remembered: As an outgoing and kind person who loved hiking, the mountains and fishing for bream and catfish at Lake Moultrie with her dad.

Survivors include: Her husband, Kenny Hoffa; sons, David and Adam Hoffa; daughters, Monica Hoffa and Ivy (Sean) Gates; parents, Elsie (Jackie) Snipes; brother, Arnold (Karen) Snipes; sister, June Cotter; and two grandchildren.

Weekdays, she drove a bus for Berkeley County schools, where she formed personal relationships with the kids. She knew all of their names, their parents’ names, too.

She could never go to Wal-Mart without at least one of them recognizing her.

“Miss Jean! Miss Jean!” they would call out, husband Kenny Hoffa said, no doubt because of her many kind acts toward them. She knitted hats and gloves for the younger ones.

She bought pizzas for middle school ones to eat on the bus after school. And on the final ride home of the school year, she’d give each high school student two water-filled balloons, put on her raincoat and let them have a water balloon fight.

Eugenia “Jean” Snipes Hoffa, died Oct. 20 at 53.

Fellow bus driver detailed her bus and put it in the funeral procession, her husband says. A sign in the window said “Miss Jean, Bus No. 19.”

At least once a year, her family spent a week in the mountains. “We loved to climb Mount LeConte, on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains,” Kenny Hoffa says. “When we got married, the first thing she wanted to do was to show me the mountains.”

Jean Hoffa was fascinated by all the wildlife there, especially the black bears, her husband says.

Whenever Jean spotted black bear, before her husband could stop his truck, she would jump out with her camera, run toward it and shoot a picture, he says.

“She would get as close as four or five feet, but she would be cautious,” Kenny Hoffa says. When they looked like they didn’t mind her being that close, she would get close. If they minded, then she wouldn’t.”

Once she drove a loop in the mountainous area 10 times, putting 100 miles on the truck while she admired the habitats nature provided.

Eight years ago, she quit smoking, started getting fit, and would bike the 10-mile trip, Kenny Hoffa says.

“She was really proud when she was able to bicycle it and not stop.”

Her friend, Tammi O’Neill, says she never shared those wilderness adventures with Jean Hoffa, but intended to do so, maybe once or twice.

When O’Neill thinks of Hoffa, she’ll remember that her friend was always trying to help someone.

“She’d never sit by and not help those having a tough time,” O’Neill says.

“She just had the heart of a giving, caring person. She was always the mother hen.”

“We both grew up in Goose Creek and we were neighbors here in Camelot for 10 years. I’ll remember the first day I went to knock on her door and ask her something. She came to the door and had this big smile, one of the most beautiful amazing smiles I’ve ever seen on anyone’s face.

“She had the best laugh, a little on the loud side, just like me. When Jean was in the room, you knew it.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.