About this Famous Person
American trade union leader
Hoffa's paternal ancestors were "Pennsylvania Dutch" and German.
Jimmy's father, a coal miner, died in 1920 when Jimmy was seven years old; the family moved to Detroit in 1924, where Hoffa was raised and lived for most of the rest of his life. Hoffa left school at age 14, and began full-time manual labor to help support his family.
Hoffa began union organizational work at the grassroots level through his employment as a teenager with a grocery chain, which paid substandard wages and offered poor working conditions with minimal job security. The workers were displeased with this situation, and tried to organize a union to better their lot. Although Hoffa was young, his bravery and approachability in this role impressed fellow workers, and he rose to a leadership position. A while later, after being dismissed from the grocery chain, in part because of his union activities, Hoffa became involved with Local 299 of the Teamsters, in Detroit, by 1932, when he joined that union.
He married Josephine Poszywak in 1936, and bought a modest home in Detroit. The couple had two children: a daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, and a son, James P. Hoffa. The Hoffa family later had a summer property at Lake Orion, Michigan, north of Detroit.