William David Hobbs ’38

William David Hobbs ’38, retired chairman, president, and chief executive officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and executive vice president and director of R.J. Reynolds Industries, died November 14 at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., after a brief illness, surrounded by his loving family. He was born December 22, 1915, in Eden to Edward Victor and Grace Stocks Hobbs, attending public schools in Eden and later in Asheboro. He served his alma mater, Davidson College, as a member of the Board of Visitors and the Ne Ultra Society. He served as a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II, attached to artillery and armored units. Bill saw action in the North African and European Theaters and was decorated with a Bronze Star. As a tank commander, Bill’s unit fought against German units commanded by Gen. Erwin Rommel. Bill began his forty-three year career with R.J. Reynolds in the leaf department and progressed to director of manufacturing before being elected president in 1972. He was elected chairman and chief executive officer in 1975. He received various industry honors during his career including Tobacco International magazine’s Man of the Year, the Tobacco and Allied Industry Human Relations Award, the Giant of the Industry Award by the California Association of Dealers, and the Humanitarian Memorial Award from the National Association of Tobacco Dealers. After retiring from R.J. Reynolds on December 31, 1980, he continued to serve the tobacco industry for ten more years as chairman of the Council for Tobacco Research. Bill’s civic and community activities included serving as an officer and director of the following organizations: United Way, Old Salem Inc., Winston-Salem Urban Coalition, Northwest North Carolina Development Association, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities Commission, City Board of North Carolina National Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Winston-Salem Kiwanis Club, Salvation Army, Peace College, Babcock School of Management, Arbor Acres, and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Banner Elk. He was a longtime member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and served in various capacities. He was preceded in death by his wife of sixty-four years, Jane Farr Hobbs. He is survived by his son, W. David Hobbs, Jr. (Gail Lybrook), 2810 Bartram Rd., Winston-Salem, N.C. 27106; his daughter, Jane (Janie) Hobbs Dean (Gary); six granddaughters, Gennifer Hobbs, Angela Hobbs Dixon (Scott), Courtney Hobbs Cashin (Mike), Katherine Dean, Shannon Dean Gutierrez (Josh), and Lauren Dean; and great-grandchildren, Maggie Acree Dixon and William Dean Gutierrez.