Hobbs remembered as ambassador for Wheeling | News, Sports, Jobs
WHEELING – Community leaders in the town of Wheeling reflect on the life of a true Friendly City advocate who – among many other accomplishments – helped lead Oglebay and Wheeling Park through transformative years and elevate them to the recreational gems they are today.
Roland “Ron” Hobbs, a lifelong resident of Wheeling, died at home on Tuesday morning at the age of 89.
Hobbs has served on countless boards of local organizations over the decades but is probably best known for his long service on the Wheeling Park Commission, of which he first served in 1972. He served the Commission for a total of 41 years before retiring in 2013 at the age of 80.
“He and I worked very well together,” G. Randolph “Randy” Worls, chairman emeritus of the Oglebay Foundation, said Tuesday. “He joined the commission the same year I started as CEO. In the mid to late 1980’s he became chairman of the Parks Commission. We raised a lot of donations and did a lot of trips together.”
Worls said Hobbs is committed to expanding the parks and has worked hard to bring projects to fruition. One particular project that resonated with Hobbs, an avid golfer, was the construction of the Arnold Palmer-designed championship golf course at Oglebay.
“He was very active in building the Palmer golf course,” Worls said. “He was very hands-on and understood the parks’ challenges, particularly with funding. He was very helpful. And we played a lot of golf together. Even though he was my boss, we were also very good friends.”
Attorney Jim Gardill of Phillips, Gardill, Kaiser & Altmeyer worked for Hobbs for many years in various capacities at the Wheeling Park Commission and on the board of directors of WesBanco.
Hobbs was President of WesBanco from 1984 to 1987, and assumed the role of Chairman in 1987.
Gardill joined the board of directors of WesBanco in 1980 and served as chairman from 1990 to 2019.
“He had great people skills,” Gardill said. “He was very popular and easy to get to know. Ron’s outgoing nature can be attributed to the success he has had in business and industrial ventures throughout his career.”
Gardill said Hobbs really put his heart into his work and the many avenues of volunteer service over the decades.
“He was a great advocate for the community – a great goodwill ambassador for Wheeling,” Gardill said.
Hobbs was elected chairman of the Wheeling Park Commission in 1979 and later helped found the Oglebay Foundation.
“Ron Hobbs was the longest-serving parks commissioner,” said former Wheeling Park Commission chairman Bill Jones, who had tenures on the board with Hobbs that overlapped 30 years. “It came at a time when it was becoming a resort and a golf destination. Oglebay really changed during those years in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.”
Jones said Hobbs led the Wheeling Park Commission in ambitious efforts to help the properties grow and thrive and helped lead the organization to become one of the premier park operations in the country.
“As chairman, he assumed leadership of the Parks Commission, which was invaluable to members,” Jones said. “He has rendered outstanding service to the parks and the community.”
Former Wheeling Park Commission President and CEO Douglas Dalby recalled Hobbs’ attention to detail and high standards when it came to the condition of the parks.
“He had a real sense of maintenance and quality,” said Dalby. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about this over the years. He was a very nice man and we had a good working relationship. And he loved the parks.”
Members of the Wheeling Rotary Club, of which Hobbs was a longtime member, observed a minute’s silence during their Tuesday meeting to honor and remember their fellow community members.
Hobbs was a graduate of the Linsly Military Institute and West Virginia University’s College of Commerce. He served in the US Army, was vice president of the Hobbs Lumber Company and founded the Greggsville Land Company before joining the board of directors of WesBanco. He has been active in many local organizations over the decades, helped found the Wheeling Ironmen football team, and was a member of the Lawrencefield Episcopal Church.
A memorial service for Hobbs is scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 28 at Lawrencefield Parish Church in Wheeling.