Lawrence Lester Hobart
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January 15, 1924 - February 22, 2014
Larry Hobart, age 90 and known to his family as Uncle Babe, passed away in Loves Park, Illinois, 7 miles from where he was born in Roscoe, Illinois. He was the youngest of nine children born to Agnes E. Belshaw and Paul Tuttle Hobart, and recently moved back to Illinois to be near his extended family. Larry went to school in Roscoe and graduated from high school before enlisting in the Marine Corp in 1941. He served as Captain of the Fire Inspector Squad in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii until January, 1946.
On the GI Bill, Larry attended Northern Illinois State Teachers College in DeKalb, then (planning to major in Botany) enrolled in the University of Montana. He graduated in 1949 with a Biology major and General Science minor, after which he taught Junior High in Butte, Montana. He moved to Eugene, Oregon for his Master's Degree in Elementary Education Administration from the University of Oregon, and then taught two years in Sweet Home (where he was an honored Junior First Citizen). He finally decided teaching school wasn't for him, so he bought a Farmers Insurance Agency and invested in rentals and apartments, moving to Albany in 1960, forming an Apartment Association there. Larry was a smart and shrewd investor who followed the stock market diligently and did his own research. He was a generous contributor to the Arbor Day Society, 4-H, Union Gospel Mission, and The Salvation Army, among others. He recently donated his bronze statue, "Lady Justice", to the State of Oregon, where she now stands in the lobby of The Supreme Court building. He retired from the apartment business in 1970 and became an active volunteer in the community.
Larry was a five-time Master Gardener and a member of several garden clubs. He helped form the Albany Rose Society and became the National Director of the Men's Garden Club of America in 1992. He proudly displayed the many ribbons and awards he received for his displays and floral exhibits in both the county and state fairs. Larry moved to Salem, Oregon in 1994. He volunteered at the Oregon Garden and was an original member of the Friends of Bush Gardens, where he worked tirelessly in Bush's Pasture Park. Larry was a collector and a garage-sale regular. His home was filled with his treasures and his garden filled with fruit and plants which he lovingly shared with friends and neighbors.
An avid reader of all literature, Larry's great passion and talent was poetry. A prolific poet, he published five volumes of original poetry, "Observations From a Busy Mind", which are available at the Oregon State Library in the Oregon Poets Collection. Another passion was travel. Over the years, he walked the Great Wall of China twice, crawled into the center of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, dipped his fingers in the waters off the Cape of Good Hope, saw the Queen of England in New Zealand, visited Montreal and Eastern Canada, climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa, visited Carlsbad Caverns and the Cliff Houses in Mesa Verde, took an unguided bus trip from Tijuana to the Panama Canal, traveled the Old Silk Road across the Gobi Desert to Kazakhstan and up to Moscow (where he got lost leaving Red Square), visited Spain and Morocco, took a chartered trip to Japan, and cruised to Alaska. He had been in every state except Rhode Island.
Larry was preceded in death by wives Dorothy O'Hare in 1989, and Hatty Bundy in 2003. He is survived by his sister Harriet Littlewood of Downey, California, a sister-in-law in Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews. He collected friends as well as things, and leaves behind many of us who loved him and will miss his twinkling blue eyes, his regular greeting "And how are you today?" and his infectious positive attitude. "That's the way it goes."
Funeral arrangements are private. Donations in his name may be made to Friends of Bush Gardens, www.friendsofbushgardens.org or 503-588-2410. Condolences to his family may be sent to his niece, Rosemarie Hobart, 4103 Landstrom Rd., Rockford, IL 61114.
Published in StatesmanJournal on Feb. 25, 2014