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Benjamin Hochfield, musician, avid gardener

Feb. 9, 1971 – Nov. 24, 2014

Benjamin Hochfield, a musician and staff member of the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, died unexpectedly Monday in his Buffalo home. He was 43.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1989 graduate of Hutchinson Technical High School and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

He left Berklee to work with a classmate on fishing boats in New Bedford, Mass., then returned to Buffalo to work as a prep chef at the Buffalo Chophouse and Kuni's.

After placing in the top three on a Civil Service test, Mr. Hochfield took a position in the Sewer Division of the county's Department of Environment and Planning. He worked briefly as an assistant in the Erie County Attorney's Office, then returned to his previous post.

As a boy, he studied piano and guitar. He had a remarkable memory, his mother, Marilyn, said, and could repeat entire scenes of dialogue from movies he had just seen. On one occasion, she said, he heard a piece by Mozart on the car radio and played it from memory on his guitar.

In addition to being a gifted musician and songwriter, he enjoyed cooking, baking and entertaining family and friends. An animal lover, he and his wife provided a foster home for cats from local shelters. He also enjoyed gardening, was recognized by Buffalo in Bloom, was part of the Buffalo Garden Walk and built a stone fountain in his front yard as a tribute to his wife, Tracey Lukasik-Hochfield.

She said he always told her, "There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who care about how their actions affect others and those who don't."

His wife said Mr. Hochfield made people smile, laugh, feel accepted and not judged with his carefree spirit and wild enthusiasm. It was in his nature to offer a helping hand to friends, family, animals or even strangers, she said.

In addition to his mother and wife, he is survived by his father, George.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday in Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave.

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