Karl F. Hoefert, a former automobile dealer and decorated veteran who fought with the Army's 95th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II, died Tuesday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Town of Tonawanda. He was 90.
A North Tonawanda native, Mr. Hoefert was believed to be the first city resident drafted during the war. A first lieutenant in the Signal Corps, he joined the initial wave of D-Day invaders at Normandy's Omaha Beach in 1944, setting up the radio network that enabled various units to communicate effectively in combat.
Mr. Hoefert was awarded a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for his actions during the drive through the French city of Metz to the Siegfried Line in November 1944, a determined effort that led the city's German occupiers to dub the 95th Division the "Iron Men of Metz." Those words remain on the unit's crest.
Mr. Hoefert also participated in the Battle of the Bulge and after the war served in the Army Reserve Officers Corps.
Wartime photographs of him were published in Collier's magazine's Pictorial History of World War II and are displayed in the 95th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City. He attended the unit's annual reunions until last year, when failing health prevented him from traveling.
Yet he never spoke of the war to family members and friends, preferring to keep the often-dark memories to himself, said a daughter, Judith
Mr. Hoefert lived in Kenmore, Grand Island and Orlando, Fla., before returning to North Tonawanda.
President of Hoefert Lincoln-Mercury in the Falls for many years before retiring, he organized Kenmore's annual Memorial Day Parade and provided the cars that carried dignitaries along Delaware Avenue. He was a past commander of Milton J. Brounschidle Post 205, American Legion, and Voiture 51, Forty & 8 Society.
His wife of 61 years, Betty Jane Rossney Hoefert, died in 2001.
Surviving besides Judith
Johannsen are four other daughters, Sandra Vullo, Wendy Rebmann, Debra Benson and Lisa Goodlander; two sons, James and Michael; a brother, Lynn W.; and a sister, Ruby Olgiati.
A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Lester H. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 3290 Delaware Ave., Town of Tonawanda.