Eulogy for
Jim Hobbs

Presented by Jim Hanks
Given at Rotary Club September 6, 2011

I begin by acknowledging the deep, abiding friendship between Rotary's Bill Baumgardt and Jim Hobbs, the Rotarian we eulogize today. This long, long friendship was manifested so admirably during these past few weeks when Jim and Ann were I the homestretch of life. I thank Bill especially for his insightful input in shaping this heartfelt tribute.

Ever since moving to Indiana in 1974, I confess I have envied Jim Hobbs. With a fresh I. U. degree and after two years in the Air Force, Jim came to this fine community in 1954, 20 years after I was lucky enough to become a Hoosier. This native of Rochester, Indiana, met his wife Ann when both were in a Music Appreciation class at I. U. They had two sons, Alan (St. Louis) and Larry (California). I had only one. I wrote the sons after Jim's passing that I was confident they could identify with and find comfort in Clarence Kelland's description of his own father: He didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.

Jim and I both labored in that most honorable profession-insurance. Lafayette Life, with far fewer employees in Tippecanoe County than my company, State farm, consistently had more employees qualifying as Vanguards with individual gifts of $1,000 or more to United Way and contributed more dollars than State Farm. I admired and envied the Lafayette Life people's generosity. Once, unthinkingly, when I had been here a few years this State Farm vice president asked Jim Hobbs what Lafayette Life's secret was fir its people's tremendous support to United Wayss--impressively higher than State Farm's. With a canny, sly wink and a puckish grin, his answer was -- better leadership. Bob Whitsel loved that reply.

For decades in this county the rivalry between Home Hospital and St. Elizabeth was intense--folks were either fiercely Pro Home and Anti St. E or vice versa. Here's how Jim handled that enigma. He was a Red Coat at Home for seven years and later chaired the St. E advisory board.

Jim and I were on the Chamber of Commerce board at the same time--his reasoned judgment and sly wit enlivened and energized our deliberations, decisions, and recommendations. It always seemed to me that the Lafayette Life executive team of Bob Whitsel and Jim Hobbs balanced just right devotion to family, commitment to company and responsibility to church and community service.

This Lafayette Life executive vice president combined quiet confidence with the unusual knack of making other people look good- i.e., better. Somewhat unassuming in demeanor and armed with droll sense of humor, he avoided the egotistical, somewhat bombastic swagger of which successful business executives age often guilty.

He was a member of the board of Civic Theater and served on the governing board and as chair of Wesley Manor Retirement Home in Frankfort, while continuing his half-century plus practice of providing lay leadership to Trinity United Methodist church. He was indeed a pillar for Trinity in the highest sense of that sometimes overused word. Witness this: He taught adult Sunday school for 30 plus years and chaired the Trinity Methodist Endowment Fund. We who live in Westminster were happy to welcome Jim and Ann as residents a year ago. Occasionally, after residents had already retreated to their apartments for the night, Jim unannounced would silently creep to the grand piano in Mendelsohn Hall and demonstrate at the keyboard the talented skill first learned as a boy. His love of classical music was life long. Indeed, a many sided man was Jim Hobbs.

So thank you, Jim Hobbs. You were such an exemplary role model for us in business. Now as you look down from that far better place, we acknowledge the hole your passing leaves--in your family. in this Rotary Club, in Trinity United Methodist church, in the broader Greater Lafayette community.

Good bye, Jim.