Our mom, Shirley Hobbs, passed away on Sept. 19 at the ripe young age of 90 years after a 14-month battle against ovarian cancer. Both of her daughters, Robin and Leesa, were at her side.
Shirley Mason Hair was born in Liberty, Mo., to Robert Mason and Dorothy Margarite Liddle Hair on Aug. 10, 1929. Her childhood was happily spent in Liberty, where she attended both grammar and high school. College brought Shirley to Lindenwood (College for Women) in St. Charles, Mo., where she majored in fashion design and merchandising. Upon leaving college, Shirley was able to make a memorable tour throughout Europe with her Aunt Gladys Kunzman. After her return to the U.S., Shirley became a clothing buyer for several large department stores in Kansas City. On June 27, 1954, Shirley married Donald Dean Hobbs and shortly afterward accompanied him to his first Air Force station assignment at Pepperrell AFB, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Here, the couple welcomed their first child, Leesa Deane. The family later moved to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. After his discharge from military service, Don began private medical practice in Topeka, Kan., where their second daughter, Robin Mason, was born in April 1967.
Shirley was a fabulous lifelong cook, seamstress, needlework artist, gardener, knitter and hostess. She made everyone—neighbors, friends and newcomers—feel welcome and comfortable in her home. Most memorable to her family are the fabulous menus she served on long automobile and train trips we took year after year. These adventures were designed to encourage her girls to explore and learn about the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Additionally, Shirley and Don enjoyed many trips with fond friends and family, traveling throughout the U.S., Great Britain and Europe. Later, Shirley traveled with her dear sister Dede to Greece as well as Vancouver Island and many U.S. needlepoint conference destinations.
Shirley loved to read; she always had a book in progress. She took great interest in studying and analyzing recipe books. Her family became the lucky recipients of a variety of new and sometimes unusual recipes, many of which became family favorites. Shirley and Don taught their girls to love music. Robin and Leesa can recall the pleasure of admiring their lovely ballroom dancing, which they displayed as active participants in Bon Vivant and Helianthus. Shirley was also a contributing member of Topeka’s Medical Auxiliary, PEO, Garden Club and Needlework Guild, and spent many years participating with Knollwood walking group. Always supportive of her daughters’ activities, clubs and sundry endeavors, Shirley maintained an elegance and much-admired sense of style and fashion—sewing many of her own outfits. She was a long time Missouri Tiger booster and attended numerous sporting events in Columbia over many decades.
After Don retired, he and Mom moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, where they entertained new Wood River Valley friends. Longtime Kansas visitors and family were equally welcomed whenever they traveled west to visit. Shirley and Don loved showing them a good time in their beloved Sawtooth Mountains, hiking, skiing, jetboating, rafting and picnicking. Especially prized were long conversations enjoyed over hot buttered rum and evenings of sometimes raucous domino games. When Don passed away in 2004, Shirley continued to be an active Nordic skier, baker, cook and host. She led her family on fabulous vacations full of laughter and love to the last of her days.
Shirley was an active supporter of her cherished grandsons who named her “Gram” and Don “Gomper.” She loved watching the boys develop into capable, talented young men and proudly attended each grandson’s Eagle Scout ceremony and water polo and music events as well as cheering on each as they achieved scholastic awards. Not one to let the grass grow, Shirley continued to knit gorgeous, intricate sweaters, took up painting and stitched many exquisite needlepoint pieces, including samples for her sister’s business, Dede’s Needleworks.
Shirley was a much-loved presence at many dog-obedience events, where she encouraged Leesa and her “grand-newfies” as well as Leesa’s friends and their dogs. Camping was another favorite activity, and Mom enjoyed many trips with Leesa, Robin, son-in-law Dale and her grandsons. She visited Robin and Dale at every new job location, loving to help with decorating and contributing her creative flair to every home and yard. She also thoroughly enjoyed investigating each new city with Robin, looking for new adventures and discoveries, including trying tempting new restaurants. Shirley adored creating, and especially sharing, great food together with family, cherishing every occasion, all of which included fun conversation, laughter and joy.
Shirley leaves to this world her family: her brother Walter of Boise, Idaho; sister Dede of Yountville, Calif.; daughters, Leesa of Boise, Robin and son-in-law Dale of Tulsa, Okla.; and grandsons, Trey (Dale III) of Austin, Texas, and Mason of LaVerne, Calif. Also surviving her are nieces Diane, Debbie and nephew Jim of Missouri; nephew David of Florida; Shaun and Mark (Barb) of Boise; and Cy and Luke of California.
In honor of a well-lived and much enjoyed life, we know that Shirley would choose for us each to sit quietly and reflect on the wonderful memories we share. And if you are so inclined, please donate to your community library.