Dan S. Hobbs, an early trustee of Baptist News Global — then known as Associated Baptist Press — died in Tulsa, Okla., Jan 12 at age 95.
Hobbs also was an early leader in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and in 1992 became the first moderator of what is today CBF Oklahoma.
He was a member at First Baptist Church of Norman, Okla., for 50 years and then became a founding member of NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman in 2004.
“Dan was a beloved mentor and faithful friend who modeled the best of what it means to be a Baptist kind of Christian,” said David Wilkinson, retired executive director and publisher of BNG. “He was principled, good-humored, humble and wise. He was a vigorous advocate for truthfulness and transparency in democratic and religious institutions and a profoundly generous supporter of ABP/BNG as an independent and trustworthy source of news and opinion.”
In 2010, Hobbs received ABP’s Founders Award for his years of service on the board and as recording secretary of the board — a role he held 18 years. That made him the chronicler of the independent news organization’s first two decades of life.
At the Founders Award presentation, Lavonn Brown, who was the longtime pastor at First Baptist Church in Norman, said both of them became concerned about developments in the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“While many Southern Baptists during that time put their heads in the sand and pretended that no one could see, Dan put his time and energy into chairing and championing Baptist freedom,” Brown said.
Hobbs said his interest in Southern Baptist life came from what he saw while serving on the SBC Executive Committee from 1979 until 1988 — the first decade of the so-called “Battle for the Bible” in the denomination.
“During those 10 years when the takeover was going on, a group of convention leaders went around the country and held their little tea parties and told Baptists that their seminary professors were liberals and they did not believe the Bible,” Hobbs said. “Enough people believed them that they got into power.
“Well, I can tell you that 10 years after the takeover started and they were in complete control, there had not been one single seminary professor fired — not one. But half of the historians were gone. The rest of them were intimidated, and half of the state Baptist editors were gone. So it’s some indication there was some prevarication going on at that time.”
Brown explained the interest Hobbs took in free press issues: “After the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, there were some Baptist Press editors and some state Baptist paper editors that were fired and some experienced censorship,” Brown added. “They began to hire editors who would print only the good things about the Southern Baptist Convention. One state paper editor resigned when his board suggested that news copy, and I quote, should be based not on what was most truthful but what was most politically expedient. So it was essential that we have a free Baptist press.”
Hobbs became a champion of ABP and continued to support BNG until his death.
He retired in 1998 after 27 years with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, where he served in a number of capacities, including a year as interim chancellor of the State Regents for Higher Education. He retired from that organization in 1988, with the title of vice chancellor emeritus.
In retirement, he spent a year as president of the University Center at Tulsa and taught as an adjunct professor of higher education at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma at Norman. He also served as distinguished professor of education and director of the Legacy Project at USAO in Chickasha.
Hobbs was born in Rocky, Okla., Feb. 8, 1927, the fourth of eight children. He graduated from Cordell High School in 1945 and entered military service that September. He served as a member of the Occupational Forces in Japan from 1946 to 47, under the command of Gen. Douglas McArthur.
After the war, Hobbs married Betty Jean Ray of Cordell, and they attended Panhandle State University together. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from that institution in 1951, and then taught school at Texhoma, Okla., for four years.
In 1969, he earned a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Hobbs was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; three brothers, William S. Hobbs, Frank B. Hobbs and Jerry Hobbs; and three sisters, Oleta Underwood, Joyce Cantrell and Jane Davis. He is survived by five children: Stephen Hobbs of Tulsa; Catherine Hobbs (Mark Mills) of Albuquerque, N.M.; Bruce Hank Hobbs of Oklahoma City; Jeanne Rogers (Chuck) of Chesterfield, Mo.; and Susan Cessna (Clayton) of Canton, Ohio. He is also survived by his sister, Lynda Hobbs Pence, and brother-in-law, Glen Pence, of Shawnee, Okla., as well as his sister-in-law, Darline Anderson Hobbs of Norman.
He is survived by 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
A private burial was held in Norman Jan. 19, and a community celebration of life will be scheduled in the spring, the family said.