By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Elizabeth Hobby was born the year the Titanic sank. She wore high heels, drove a car, traveled and served as a faithful volunteer at several Catholic institutions. Friends described her as youthful until she turned 100 years old.
Hobby celebrated her 107th birthday Dec. 23 at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s St. Joseph Home for the Aged, where she resides.
She was born in Louisville in 1912 and grew up in the West End. Hobby’s mother died when she was 12 years old and her only sibling died, too, as an infant. Hobby was raised by her maternal grandmother and an aunt whom she was very fond of, said Sheila Williams, a friend of Hobby’s.
Hobby has recently started losing verbal speech, but is alert, said Williams who is also Hobby’s power of attorney.
Dressed in festive red and white, Hobby smiled and listened during a recent interview at the home as Williams shared memories of Hobby’s long life.
Hobby wasn’t raised Catholic, but always had an affinity for the faith tradition, especially for the religious sisters.
“She loved the nuns. As a child, she loved to go down there and watch” the Little Sisters of the Poor, said Williams. The Little Sisters formerly had a home on 10th Street, where they ministered to the elderly from 1869 to 1977. “She always had great respect for them.”
Hobby became Catholic about 40 years ago and loves to pray the rosary, Williams noted.
“God has really blessed her. There’s something about her. One resident at the home said they’d ‘never heard anybody pray the rosary like Mrs. Hobby.’ ”
She spent many years serving as a volunteer cleaning St. Ignatius Martyr Church, where she was a parishioner. She also volunteered with the Little Sisters of the Poor for 15 years, said Williams.
Hobby also traveled the globe, including visiting the Holy Land in Israel, said Williams.
She was married to James Hobby, but had no children. She has been widowed for close to four decades, said Williams. Hobby lived alone for years following her husband’s death.
Williams said she believes her friendship with Hobby is providential. They met about 12 years ago at St. Martin of Tours Church, where Williams serves as the finance manager.
Hobby visited St. Martin’s adoration chapel weekly.
“I saw this beautiful woman walking down the aisle,” said Williams. After a while, Williams said she asked, “Where’s your family? Who are you with?”
Williams said she was worried that Hobby was out alone and started walking with her to her car. Their friendship started blooming then, she said.
In 2014 Hobby and Williams lived together for a short period as Hobby transitioned into St. Joseph Home for the Aged, said Williams.
“God placed her in my path,” said Williams. “I kept thinking why my? I guess this is the way it’s supposed to be. I was supposed to get her to this point.”
As far as secrets to living a long life, Williams said Hobby has none. She tended to fill her life with things that brought her joy — such as walking, music, dancing and shopping at the Dollar Tree — said Williams.
At 100 years old, Hobby was still driving her car and walking in high heels, recalled Williams with a laugh.
At St. Joseph Home, Hobby still pursues things that bring her joy, such as painting and playing bingo, said Williams.
Mother Paul Magyar, superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor said those who serve at the home love Hobby. They are committed to treating her with “dignity and respect,” even in small ways like allowing Hobby to choose the color she wants to wear every day.
The elderly have dignity that comes from “great respect” for all they’ve gone through in life, said Mother Magyar. “They’ve met the challenges and the joys which unite in them to make them who they are,” she said during an interview at St. Joseph in late December. “The life of God is in them sustaining them, carrying them and walking with them.”