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ABOUT TOWN: Stoughton Turns Out to Pay Respects at Jake Hoffman's Wake, Funeral

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STOUGHTON TURNS OUT FOR JAKE: The Wake at the Farley Funeral Home on Friday night, Jan. 25 for Stoughton's Jake Hoffman had literally thousands of people going through, some of whom waited nearly four hours in bone-chilling temperatures and snow to pay their final respects to this great young man.

The home was adorned with photos that took guests from Jake's infancy to college. Many of the people pictured in these photos with him were crying uncontrollably near his open coffin. This great young man, and his wonderful family, had touched so many people that they were literally lined up around the building and down Park Street.

A spokesman at Farley Funeral Home confirmed it was one of the biggest Wakes in a number of years, since Stoughton Firefighter Victor Melendy lost his life on duty for the Stoughton Fire Department on Jan. 28, 1995. 

Jeff Farley of Farley Funeral home added, "it was a great tribute to Jake and his family that so many people would come out and wait, in such adverse conditions, to pay their final respects."

Hoffman, a 2009 graduate of Stoughton High School, was in his senior year at UMass Amherst. He died in a tragic off-campus apartment fire last Monday, Jan. 21 in Amherst.

The Funeral was held on Saturday, Jan. 26, at St. James Church. The Parish was packed, with every square inch of seating, in the main floor and upper floor filled with people, young and old, paying their respects to this incredible young man, and his family.

Father John E. Kelly did a wonderful job expounding on the goodness of Jake and his family. The way he articulated it, this was not Jake's ending, but a new beginning, in the afterlife, with Jesus up in Heaven. Beautiful music filled the room, and every person in the sanctuary - Christian or not - listened to every word and prayer spoken.

After the liturgy, and the graveside service, hundreds gathered downstairs in the St. James function room to watch a video of still shots from Jake's life. Seeing his family and friends (including my own son) left everyone in tears. The music, including Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Over the Rainbow" just made it that more an emotional experience for everyone viewing it. Then, a video was played with Jake mugging for the camera.

It was an emotionally wrenching, heartbreaking day for his friends and family. The Hoffman family is extremely close, as illustrated by the myriad of shots of Jake's mother and father, Anne and Dave, and his sister and brother, Nichole and Riordan, with Jake - happy and enjoying each other's company.

His sister, Nichole,  gave an impromptu speech downstairs, where she noted that Jake had now become a guardian angel for Riordan, and that she no longer feared taking her last breath, because she knew that Jake would be there to greet her.

May He Rest in Peace. 

Donations in Jake's memory may be made to the James "Jake" Hoffman Memorial Fund, PO Box 93, Stoughton, MA 02072. The fund will be used to try to help those who lost their belongings in the Amherst fire that took Jake's life.

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