Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters boss who disappeared in 1975 in what is one of the United States’ most enduring unsolved mysteries, left behind two children, a son and a daughter.
Jimmy’s son, James P. Hoffa, has followed in his footsteps – literally. Today, he’s general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. His daughter is also an interesting person. She is a retired Missouri judge named Barbara Crancer.
Hoffa’s disappearance is featured in the new Netflix movie by Martin Scorsese, The Irishman. It argues that Hoffa was murdered by Frank Sheeran, a Delaware union official with mob ties, at the behest of a powerful crime boss named Russell Bufalino. Some people dispute that theory. Sheeran confessed to the crime in a book. Hoffa’s body has never been found and no one was ever charged in connection with his presumed death.
In addition to his two biological children, Jimmy Hoffa had a foster son named Chuckie O’Brien. Chuckie was accused by Sheeran of driving a car that took Hoffa to the death house that day, although Sheeran said he doesn’t think Chuckie knew what was happening. O’Brien has denied driving Hoffa in the car, but Hoffa’s kids have told UPI they think Chuckie’s actions that day were suspicious.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. James P. Hoffa Is an ‘Outspoken Critic of Government Trade Policies,’ His Bio States & the Children Inherited an Estate Worth More Than $1 Million
According to the mob museum, Hoffa left behind a $1.2 million estate, and his children were named heirs when a judge declared him legally dead seven years after he vanished. His wife, Josephine, died in 1980, never fully recovering from her husband’s disappearance, according to The New York Times. She was only 62.
The Teamsters’ website has a detailed biography for Jimmy’s son, James P. Hoffa.
James P. Hoffa “has been building the International Brotherhood of Teamsters into the strongest, most powerful voice in North America for working families,” the biography states.
“Under Hoffa’s leadership, the Teamsters Union is winning industry-leading contracts, engaging in vigorous contract enforcement and organizing the unorganized. Teamster positions on the issues of the day—from pension and retirement security, infrastructure development and worker rights to developing fair trade policies—now hold sway in Washington’s power corridors.”
The bio says that James P. Hoffa is “the most visible and outspoken critic of government trade policies and anti-worker corporate agendas, Hoffa is recognized as a leader on issues that affect working people.”
He’s been elected many times. “Hoffa has been elected by direct-members vote five times – 1998, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. He is the second-longest serving General President (Dan Tobin, 1907 – 1952) since the union was founded in 1903,” the bio explains.
Jimmy Hoffa was born in Indiana to a coal miner father who died young, according to Biography.com. In 1936, he married Josephine Poszywak. She is the mother of his two kids. You can see a picture of the siblings together here.
2. James Hoffa ‘Grew Up on Picket Lines’ & Is Jimmy Hoffa’s Only Son
The bio for James says that “Hoffa grew up on picket lines and in union meetings. He is the only son of James R. Hoffa, former Teamsters General President (1957 – 1971).”
Before he was named president, James Hoffa “worked as a Teamsters laborer in Detroit and Alaska in the 1960s. He then spent 25 years as a labor attorney representing members, local unions and Joint Councils. From 1993 until his inauguration as General President in 1999, Hoffa served as Administrative Assistant to the President of Joint Council 43 in Michigan,” the bio states.
Both Democratic and Republican presidents have named Hoffa to various positions. His bio lists them as follows:
2019 – Present, Chair, Road Section, International Transport Workers Federation
2019 – Present, Member, Executive Board, International Transport Workers Federation
2015 – Present, Board Member, Roosevelt Institute
2010 – Present, USTR Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations
2009 – Present, Department of Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy
2013 – 2015, National Freight Advisory Committee
2002 – 2004, President’s Council on the 21st Century Workforce
2002 – 2004, Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board
3. Jimmy’s Daughter Idolized Him & Has Filed Freedom of Information Act Requests Seeking Information About His Disappearance
A 1991 article in The Chicago Tribune on Barbara Crancer, Jimmy Hoffa’s daughter, described how she idolized her dad. At the time, the Tribune described her as age 52, and an administrative law judge in St. Louis, In 1992, she was named a circuit judge in St. Louis County.
According to the newspaper, she was “a firm, composed woman, who speaks softly, evenly, tirelessly” and who was frustrated by the fact her dad’s disappearance remained unsolved.
“I thought he walked on water,” she told The Tribune of her father. The newspaper added that she seeking information from the government about her dad’s disappearance by filing Freedom of Information Act Requests. “I’m just looking for answers,” she said. The Tribune reported that Crancer had been “looking for a long time, fighting the government for four years.”
You can read materials released by the FBI on Jimmy Hoffa’s case here.
As for Chuckie:
The Hoffex memo which details the lead FBI case agent’s feelings on the case in 1976, says that Charles Lenton Joseph O’Brien was investigated after Hoffa died by the FBI. Authorities focused on his activities before and after Hoffa’s disappearance, his relationship with Tony Giacalone, and his use of and access to Joey Giacalone’s 1975 Mercury. The FBI interviewed O’Brien twice in August 1975.
In 2001, an article by UPI reported that FBI scientists discovered that a strand of hair in a car he drove the day Hoffa vanished had matched Hoffa’s DNA. The testing had not been available at the time.
“I loved this man more than anything. My thought has always been that this could be solved,” O’Brien told UPI. He has always denied having anything to do with Hoffa’s disappearance.
In his FBI interview at the time, O’Brien told authorities that he spent the day running errands. He claimed he borrowed the Giacalone car because the union station wagon was not available. He took a 40-pound salmon sent by a friend in Seattle to a residence where a woman helped him cut it up. He claimed he got pink watery fluid from the box on his shirt. The fluid also leaked in the car, so he went and got a car wash. He then went to an athletic club.
By Frank Sheeran’s account as told to author Charles Brandt, O’Brien drove Hoffa to a house where Sheeran ambushed him and shot the union boss in the head. However, Sheeran didn’t think O’Brien knew what was about to happen and said in the book, “I always felt sorry for Chuckie O’Brien in this whole thing, and I still do.”
But, UPI reported, no one at the club or car wash recognized O’Brien when they were shown a picture. Both of Hoffa’s biological children told UPI they think O’Brien’s actions were suspicious.
4. Crancer Ran a Workers’ Rights Division in Missouri
In 2009, Crancer was described as “St. Louis Senior Judge Barbara Crancer” in a news release announcing that the Missouri attorney general was appointing her “to head a newly created division of his office charged with enforcing civil rights, along with the rights of workers and the disabled. Crancer will serve as Chief Counsel of the Division of Civil, Disability and Workers’ Rights.”
The news release said of Crancer: “Crancer, the division’s Chief Counsel, has served as a judge in Missouri’s 21st Judicial Circuit, located in St. Louis County, since 1992. She received her bachelor’s degree from Albion College in Albion, Mi., and her law license from Washington University in St. Louis.”
Of the appointment, she said, “After nearly 20 years in public service, I have come to appreciate the important role our government and our legal system play in making sure Missourians’ rights are protected.”
Crancer added: “I am humbled to be appointed to this position by Attorney General Koster, and I look forward to working with the many talented attorneys, investigators and other experts in the Attorney General’s Office to make a difference for Missourians.”
5. Crancer Doesn’t Believe the Case Will Ever Be Solved & Hoffa’s Son Long Ago Said the Family Gave up Hope
In 1982, The New York Times reported, James P. Hoffa asked a court to declare his father legally dead. “You know, it’s nearing the end of a long journey of waiting and hoping,” he told The Times then. “Of course, at this late date nobody has any hope.”
Over the years, Crancer has expressed frustration.
“They’re all dead,” said Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, now a retired judge in St. Louis, to the Detroit Free Press in 2015. “Most of the people that were suspects are gone. I guess it won’t be solved. It would be a comfort to find his body, but I don’t think we will.”
She told the newspaper that she still thinks of her dad every single day. The newspaper said that authorities did find one piece of forensic evidence, Hoffa’s hair in the car they think Chuckie drove him to the death house.
Jimmy Hoffa would be a grandfather and great-grandfather today had he lived.
James P. Hoffa’s biography says that he is married to his wife Virginia for 50 years, with whom he has two sons, David and Geoffrey. They also have six grandchildren together.
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