Daryl Jerome Hobbs was born January 6, 1934 in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and died in Columbia, Missouri on December 16, 2014. Born to Hazel (DeVries) and Clarence Hobbs, he spent his childhood in rural Iowa. As a young boy he was educated at Badger #10, a two-room school in Humboldt County, Iowa. He spent summers working on his grandparents’ farms and helping his Dad make supply deliveries from the local W&H farmers’ cooperative that Clarence managed. These early experiences solidified a fundamental understanding of the role of co-ops and built in him a strong work ethic and a capability to do anything he set his mind to—especially if it involved building, planting, or repairing anything outdoors.
From a young age he was independent and athletic, distinguishing himself as the star quarterback at Ft. Dodge High School, and earning a scholarship to Iowa State University where he played quarterback on the football team. He went on to receive his Master’s and PhD from Iowa State, supporting himself and his young family as an Army ROTC reservist.
He married Louise Grismore of Corydon, Iowa in 1954. Together they had four children––Terry (Brigid), Denise (Kevin, deceased), Julie (Mark) and Mary. Louise preceded him in death in 1975. The family moved to Columbia, Missouri in 1964, where Dr. Hobbs continued his long academic career as professor of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri. While serving as Chair of the Sociology Department in 1970, Daryl Hobbs took an ethical stand in refusing to provide to the University Board of Curators the names of faculty members who had cancelled classes in the wake of the Kent State tragedy—a stand that nearly cost him his tenured faculty position, but which exemplified his principled nature.
Daryl married Vicki Byrd of Columbia, Missouri in 1977 and they had one daughter, Holly. Dr. Hobbs went on to have a long and distinguished academic career, establishing the Title V Rural Development Office at MU which linked Extension faculty with academic departments to solve community problems through applied research projects around the state; helping to conceptualize the federally-funded multi-land grant university research center, the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI); serving as President of the Rural Sociological Society; helping to establish the Peace Studies Program at MU; and founding and leading the University’s Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis (OSEDA)—a unique academic research center that applied data and analysis to the public good, a principle which was a core value for Dr. Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs lived this value of science in the public service, spending countless hours over many years traveling across the state of Missouri and throughout the Heartland to lend his community development leadership skills to disadvantaged rural communities looking to forge a more prosperous path for their citizens. This dedication earned him life-long friendships across the State, as well as numerous accolades, including the University of Missouri’s Distinguished Faculty-Alumni award for contributions to Extension in 1995.
In addition, his influence spread well beyond the State of Missouri, as he conducted applied research in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and advised hundreds of students from across the globe who have gone on to positively influence the social and economic development of their societies. His approach as an advisor was to support not just the academic life of his students, but to help them feel welcome and nurtured in the United States. Whether this involved finding affordable housing, furniture and transport, assisting them to navigate complex US immigration procedures to bring their families to America, or inviting lone students to join the Hobbs family for holidays—he was always there to help out in whatever way he could. His door was always open and his time was always available for lively discussions with graduate students or to solve the myriad problems faced by those far from home.
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by his mother, seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and hundreds of former graduate students who, following his example, have helped to make the world a better place.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Rural Sociological Society Diversity Travel Fund, Brigham Young University, 2019 JFSB, Provo UT 84602. A private ceremony was held on the land he loved. A gathering and picnic for family, friends, and colleagues in his memory will be held on October 10.
This website has been established in his honor for those who wish to share memories or document the impact Daryl made on the lives of so many.