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Jean Davis Hobson

1913 - 2013, Santa Barbara

Longtime volunteer at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Jean Davis Hobson has died in Santa Barbara at age 99 of pneumonia.

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Natalie Jean Davis was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Davis. She was raised in Crawfordsville, Indiana with her two sisters Catherine and Virginia. Jean attended Purdue University, graduating with degrees in Science and Education in 1936, and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She continued to participate in Theta alumnae activities for many years in Santa Barbara. In 1937 while working in Lafayette, Indiana, Jean met Edwin Hobson. They were married in Crawfordsville, Indiana in 1938. Jean spent much of WWII living in Indiana with her parents and son, John, born in 1941. She taught high school English and science classes in the small town of New Ross. Her husband, Edwin, enlisted in the US Navy in 1942 and was deployed to Italy and North Africa for two years. After the war, the family lived in Attica, Indiana where their daughter, Sarah, was born in 1946. In 1947, the Hobsons moved to Northern California where Jean continued her teaching career at Bret Harte Junior High School in Hayward until she and Ed retired in 1972.

Both before and after retirement the Hobsons travelled to Europe, Britain, Central America and throughout the US. They moved from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara in 1976, and made many friends, especially among their neighbors on Alta Vista Road. A 30 year volunteer at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Jean became an expert in preserving and displaying plants collected by the Garden’s botanists. She was named Volunteer of the Year by the Garden in 1992 and continued pursuing her lifelong passions of birding, natural history and water color painting.

After Ed’s death in 1984, Jean continued to volunteer and travel, often with her friend Katherine Piani of Santa Barbara. Bent on adding missing species of penguins to her lifetime bird list, Jean celebrated her 88th birthday aboard a ship sailing around Cape Horn. She and the Captain were the only ones able to attend her onboard birthday dinner due to gale force winds and rough seas. Declining health and eyesight led Jean to move to Villa Santa Barbara where she spent nine happy years. Two years ago Jean moved to Mission Terrace Convalescent Hospital where she resided until her death, receiving warm, wonderful care from owner, Eve Murphy, the Hospital’s loving and professional staff and her trusted friend and caring physician, Dr. Michael Omlid.

Jean died on January 25, 2013, the last member of her generation in her family. She leaves behind two children, Sarah Lewis and John Hobson; daughter-in-law, Shirley Hobson; two grandchildren Katherine Hobson and David Hobson, of whom she was so proud, and two great-grandchildren, Stella Hobson and Lydia Colarusso, both of whom she was delighted to meet during the last year of her life. Jean also leaves nieces, nephews, many friends and her former colleagues at the Botanic Garden all of whom contributed to her rich life, well lived.

In honoring Jean’s requests, there will be no services. Memorial gifts in her name may be made to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden or the Braille Institute of Santa Barbara.

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