Robert Thomas Hobbs

4 entries
  • "Dear Cathy, I am truly sorry to hear of your recent loss..."
    - Anne Syphard
  • - Bobby & Jackie Rawls
  • "Cara, I'm so sorry! You are in my thoughts amd prayers and..."
    - Jill Middleton
  • "My thoughts and Prayers for the entire Hobbs family."
    - Kathi Love Kulp
The Guest Book is expired.

BURLINGTON - Robert Thomas Hobbs, known to many as "R.T," "Tommy" and "Tom," died peacefully at 7:30 a.m. June 5, 2013, at Twin Lakes Wade Coble Health Care Center in Burlington, N.C. He was 91 years old. The eldest of three, he was born in Corapeake, N.C. on Aug. 6, 1921, to Andrew Jarvis Hobbs, Methodist minister, and Edith Savage Hobbs, school teacher and homemaker.
Over the years the family moved several times as his father accepted various appointments within the Methodist Church. As a child he took piano lessons, joined the Boy Scouts, and enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. He attended high school in Wilson, N.C., where he sang in the Junior Choir, continued in Scouting, was on several committees and wrote for the school newspaper.
After graduation from Duke University in 1942, Tom enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve Midshipmen's School, known as the Navy College Training Program at Notre Dame, where he trained to be an officer. He received the Ensign's commission in 1943 and was sent to the Navy's Fleet Sound School in Key West, Fla. during World War II. Assigned as Sonar Officer on the USS Kimberly, a Fletcher class destroyer, Tom was promoted to Lieutenant. During the Pacific War against Japan, the Kimberly took a direct hit from a kamikaze, but was repaired and able to rejoin the 5th Fleet to escort the battleship USS Missouri for the formal signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945, later declared V-J Day by President Harry Truman.
Proud to be a bona fide "destroyerman," Tom returned to civilian life, attended N.C. State and acquired a degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1948 he became an Assistant City Manager in Raleigh. On a weekend visit to Rocky Mount, he met Alice Catherine Jones, a Director of Christian Education, and according to his description, a "very provocative young woman." They married in 1951 and moved to Dunn, N.C. He became their first city manager and in 1951 was ordered to active duty for the Korean War. He was assigned to the USS Sturtevant (DE-239) as Executive Officer and served on the ship for a year. In 1955 he became city manager for Graham, N.C., then began his career as a Manufacturing Engineer with Western Electric, which later became part of AT&T and Lucent Technologies. During his 33 years as a professional engineer, Tom worked on the Nike Hercules Missile Systems, Titan Ground Guidance, Safeguard Ballistic Missile Defense and the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Tom received an AB in Education and History from Duke University, during which time he sang and toured with the University Glee Club and performed with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians on NBC Radio from Rockefeller Center. He later earned an SH in Electrical Engineering from NCSU, an AP in Physics from Elon College and an MIE in Industrial Engineering from NCSU. He was active in the National Society of Professional Engineers, Professional Engineers of North Carolina. Former president of the Piedmont Council of Engineering and Technical Societies and the Burlington Chapter of American Field Service, Tom continued to participate in the Navy's Reserve Program, during which time he was promoted to Commander.
An active member of his community, Tom placed a high value on citizenship and was involved in many local service clubs and organizations. Tom gave his time to the Raleigh Jaycees, Dunn Rotary, Hopewell Rotary, Graham Rotary and the Burlington Rotary. Former President and proud member of the Burlington Kiwanis Club, he maintained his membership in good standing until his death. A dedicated member of Front Street United Methodist Church, Tom served on the administrative board, worked in various capacities with the United Methodist Men, taught Sunday school, sang bass in the choir and was a coordinator for the Neighborhood Group program.
Tom enjoyed meeting new people and learning about new things. He appreciated words and language and was known to recite or write a poem on many occasions. One of his favorite activities was sitting around the dining room table conversing with family and friends. When important family decisions had to be made, Tom referred to the Rotary Club Four Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
A loyal fan of Duke basketball, Tom read the local paper every day and watched The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson every night. He loved clipping articles and collecting literature on almost any subject. An avid reader, he always made time to help with a school paper, tutor math the night before a test, and offer creative ideas for school projects. He played the organ and the harmonica, and taught all of his daughters how to play chess. His daughters have excellent car-packing skills, since he insisted all luggage for a trip be on the driveway before loading the car - a rule that ensured efficient packing. To this day, each of his daughters has excellent car-packing skills. He also required that the car be fully serviced before any trip: check tires, oil, and fluid levels - another valuable tradition now carried on by his wife and daughters. He encouraged his daughters to think for themselves, pursue their interests and he led by example the importance of becoming involved in clubs and organizations.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, James C. Hobbs. He is survived by the love of his life for sixty-two years, his wife, Alice, "Sunny J." Left with countless precious memories are his daughters and sons-in-law, Cathy Hobbs Proffitt and spouse, John Proffitt, of Burlington, Caren Hobbs McPherson and spouse, Mark McPherson, of Greensboro, Carol Hobbs and spouse, Rick Edgar, of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Cara Hobbs Lewis and spouse, Andy Lewis, of Cary. His grandchildren are Sam Martorella, Tommy Hobbs, Brookelyn McPherson, MerriAlice Hobbs, Theo Lewis and Jane Lewis. Remembering him with love is a host of other relatives and friends including his sister, Nancy Banks, and spouse, Myron, of Raleigh, and their children, Caroline Whitley, David and Steven Banks; nephews, Jim and Bill Hobbs and their respective family members; and his cousin, Martha West, of Salisbury. The Hobbs family sincerely thanks his "other family," the staff at Twin Lakes who took such good care of him, laughed with him and loved him.
A celebration of his life will take place at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, June 30, 2013, at Front Street United Methodist Church, 136 South Fisher St., Burlington, N.C. Visitation with the family will take place after the service in the Heritage Center Reception area at the church. A military funeral is planned for a later date at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Memorials may be made in his honor to Front Street United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 2597, Burlington, NC 27216-2597.
Lowe Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. is assisting the Hobbs family.
You may sign the online register book at
Funeral Home
Lowe Funeral Home & Crematory
2205 South Church Street
Burlington, NC 27215
(336) 228-8366
Funeral Home Details
Send Flowers
Published in from June 8 to June 9, 2013
bullet Korean War bullet Rotary International bullet U.S. Navy bullet World War II