TPI is saddened by the loss of Bob Hohler
Date Published: June 9, 2011
All of us at TPI are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved friend and colleague Bob Hohler, executive director of the Melville Charitable Trust, who died suddenly on June 2 while vacationing with his family in England. Starting in the late 1990s, Bob joined the TPI team working with the Melville Charitable Trust and led this work until 2008, when The Trust established its own office under Bob’s leadership. He was truly an inspiration and role model for all of us at TPI, and for everyone who cares deeply about the power and potential of philanthropy to catalyze positive social change.
Bob's obituary from The Boston Globe is available here. Below is the statement that The Trust has released to the public and the press. We extend our deepest condolences to Bob’s family, the board and staff of The Melville Charitable Trust, and the network of friends and colleagues who will miss him greatly.
Statement from The Melville Charitable Trust on the death of Executive Director Robert Hohler
June 3, 2011
Robert Hohler, executive director of The Melville Charitable Trust and a national leader in the effort to end homelessness, died suddenly on Thursday, June 2, while vacationing in England with his family.
Mr. Hohler, who in 2009 was honored as the year’s Distinguished Grantmaker by The Council on Foundations, was the driving force behind The Melville Trust’s efforts across Connecticut and the nation to support and foster solutions to both prevent and end homelessness.
Stephen Melville, chairman of The Trust board of directors, issued this statement:
The Trust is deeply saddened by the sudden death of its Executive Director Robert Hohler while hiking in England on June 2. Bob has been involved in the Trust virtually since its inception, and his bold imagination, unflagging energy, and relentless optimism have been the driving force behind its activities and those of its many partners for close to two decades. There was nothing abstract in Bob’s life-long commitment to social justice: It arose out of the deepest feeling for the lives and possibilities of people too easily and often overlooked or pushed aside, and it was everywhere seasoned with realism, humor, and a genuine love for the push and pull--the real social work--of getting things done. All this went hand-in-hand with an extraordinary zest for life. In him, we have had not only a colleague of immeasurable value but the dearest of friends. Today, our deepest sympathies and gratitude are with Bob's wife Karen, who generously shared with us so much of Bob's time, attention, and dedication over the years.
Mr. Hohler, who was chairman of The Partnership for Strong Communities’ board of directors and a member of the board of Billings Forge Community Works, dedicated more than a quarter century to socially-conscious and responsible philanthropy. Over the 20 years since The Melville Trust was founded in 1991, he has creatively implemented the Trust’s core grantmaking philosophy that philanthropy must work with and support government to effectively address issues of poverty including health disparities, access to education and, most importantly, access to safe, decent, and affordable housing. He has led the Trust in highly creative grantmaking strategies, focusing on proven, lasting and cost-effective strategies, and has helped to launch and inspire Funders Together to End Homelessness, a national affinity group of grantmakers who share these goals. He also served for many years as chairman of the board and president of the Civil Rights Project, Inc. (CRPI), the nonprofit affiliate of Blackside, Inc., producers of the much honored television series, "Eyes On the Prize" and many other distinguished documentaries. He was a current member of the National Film and Media Archive Advisory Board and the Libraries National Council at Washington University in St. Louis. In Massachusetts, Bob served in the 1990s as a member of the Massachusetts attorney general's advisory committee on non-profits and charities and was a member of Boston's Friday Forum, which is dedicated to developing philanthropy.
In Connecticut, Hohler oversaw The Partnership for Strong Communities’ efforts to end homelessness through the Reaching Home Campaign to create permanent supportive housing, prevent homelessness through the HOMEConnecticut campaign to create affordable housing in municipalities across the state, and develop strategies for effective community development through investment in The Billings Forge Community Works – affordable homes, job training, year-round Farmer’s Market, The Studio, The Kitchen, The Firebox restaurant -- in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford.
In accepting the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s National Housing Leadership Award on behalf of The Melville Trust in 2004, Hohler said, “What unites us all, what powers us all, is the vision of a society where everyone has a place that they can call home – safe, decent, affordable places in healthy, economically sound and supportive communities…. At the center of everything we do is the idea of individual empowerment, of helping people to help themselves by getting access to the tools and means to achieve.”
Ann Woodward, The Melville Charitable Trust, 617/236-2244
Cary Wheaton, Billings Forge Community Works, 857/373-9499
Howard Rifkin, Partnership for Strong Communities 860/244-0066