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Eileen Hoban, office manager and classy clotheshorse, dies at 93

Eileen Hoban in Madrid's Plaza Mayor for her

Eileen Hoban in Madrid's Plaza Mayor for her 80th birthday. The former office manager died on Oct. 11 at age 93. Credit: Rose Hoban Tell

Eileen Mahoney Hoban remembered every piece of clothing she had ever worn. A true clotheshorse, she loved fashion and wore her outfits with class, her family said.

"Whenever my mother talked about events in her life, she described what she wore. Part of the reason we had a wake was because we felt like she needed one last reason to put on some fine threads," said Hoban's daughter, Rose Hoban Tell of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. "Especially because she must’ve pointed out a half-dozen different outfits and said to me, ‘I wouldn’t mind being laid out in that.’ "

On the day of Hoban's funeral, her daughter wore a vintage black leather skirt from Brooks Brothers that was found in Hoban's closet. It fit like a glove.

Hoban developed dementia in the last years of her life. She likely suffered a series of small strokes that led to her death on Oct. 11 at age 93 in a Rockville Centre hospice.

Born in Jackson Heights in 1928 and raised there, Hoban was a generational New Yorker. She attended the now-defunct Our Lady of Wisdom Academy and continued her studies at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn. Hoban graduated in 1950 and remained active as the class secretary for decades. She moved from Port Washington to Manhasset and lived there until 2011.

Hoban married her college sweetheart, Jack Hoban, in 1951. He died in 1979.

"When I was cleaning out her things, I found the diary she kept when she started dating my father. She fell for him immediately," said Tell of her father, who was in the Army and infantry and stationed in Berlin. "My parents made a stunning couple."

Tell said her mother was an incredible seamstress who also enjoyed needlepoint and knitting. On a trip to Europe with her husband, who was a public transit engineer for Port Authority and a director of rail transportation for PATH, Hoban had one of her proudest moments.

"My parents traveled all over the world looking at different transit systems," said Tell. "My mother found a pattern in Vogue for a two-piece top and skirt set. She knitted them both and wore them on a trip to Paris with my father. The head of the Paris Metro took her to a department store in Paris, and a handful of women stopped her and asked where she got her dress. That was a peak moment for her."

Hoban was described by family and friends as engaged in the world (she read The New York Times until the day she died and was always in tune with what was happening in the world), and game for adventure. She was involved in civic life as an election worker, and on the local planning board in Plandome.

Lloyd Williams and his late wife, Mickey, were Hoban's next-door neighbors and best friends since 1968.

"Eileen was a wonderful neighbor; a very nice, bright woman, who raised a beautiful family," said Williams, now of Florida. "She was very active in the Plandome Woman's Club and bridge group, and was a very strong lady."

Hoban also was an active Catholic and very involved in the church until she died. According to her daughter, Hoban was both "an active congregant and a thorn in the side of whoever was leading."

"She was outspoken and wasn't afraid to let you know her opinion," said Tell. "She was a pistol and lived life to the fullest."

Tell said her mother nearly drowned as a child and was afraid of the water for the rest of her life. It wasn't until Hoban's husband took up sailing that she learned how to be comfortable on the water. Tell remembered looking with disbelief at a photo of her mother whitewater rafting with friends at age 74.

After her husband's death, Hoban returned to school to become a paralegal and built a career managing the office of an insurance brokerage.

"Eileen was outstanding. A true lady who brought a touch of class and a real sense of professionalism to our office," said company founder Peter Pace of his late employee. "She kept the neatest accounting ledgers I have ever seen."

When asked about her favorite memory of her mother, Tell said that it was a recent one: a special mother-daughter trip to Spain for Hoban's 80th birthday.

"She never thought she would see Europe again, and Spain was the one major country she hadn't seen. I remember we saw so many flamingos when we were there and that sort of became a theme between my mother and me," said Tell.

"When we got back, she found flamingo sheets and bought them because it reminded her of our time in Spain, and I would send her cards with flamingos on them. I'll always think of her whenever I see a flamingo."

Besides her daughter, Hoban is survived by sons John Hoban of East Moriches and Thomas Hoban, and four grandchildren.

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