Betsy Iden Bowen Hobgood
June 5, 1929 – April 20, 2017
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio but raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Betsy Hobgood was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from Transylvania University (1950); a Master’s in Education (1951), and a Master of Science in Library Science (1969) from the University of Kentucky.
Betsy was appointed by the United Christian Missionary Society, a predecessor mission body of what today is Global Ministries, in 1955 to serve as a Disciple missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo until 1970 in several mission locations. While in Kisangani, Betsy worked in the library where she trained Congolese to further implement the library. In 1967 Betsy established the first library for a fledgling ecumenical institution that today is the Congo Protestant University, with four faculties and more than 8000 students. Betsy and Ben helped in the founding of the university, and in retirement raised more than $1 million in scholarship support for its students.
A lifelong learner, Betsy was fluent in French and two African languages. After returning to the United States from the Congo, Betsy was a high school librarian in Plano, Texas, and Smithfield, North Carolina. Betsy and Ben enjoyed traveling, and visited friends and family around the world as well as returning to the Congo in 1995 where they volunteered for one year. During that year, Betsy found herself back at the library of The American School of Kinshasa, a job she had enjoyed when her daughters attended as students.
Betsy and Ben lived their later years at Penney Retirement Community in Florida, where Betsy founded a state of the art library for the residential community and also found time to volunteer at the Green Cove Public Library. She loved singing in the Women’s Chorus, helping to manage the book section of Re-Sale, and greeting newcomers. She enjoyed cooking, and was well known for the fun Halloween meals she created to celebrate Ben’s October 31 birthdays. Adored by her children and grandchildren for her cultural awareness, Betsy introduced them to the theater, the latest movies and music, and “must read” books. She initiated the family’s annual “Beach Week,” spending countless hours collecting books for every reading preference, as well as puzzles, kites, and recipes from around the world to add zest to the fun activities.
Ben Hobgood, her husband of almost 65 years, predeceased Betsy in December 2014. She is survived by her daughters Anne, Lucy and Susan, and their families, as well as her sister and brother-in-law Brenda and Craig Hamilton, their three children; and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, W. Chris Hobgood, and Cary Meade Hobgood.
A celebratory concert in Betsy’s memory will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2017 at Penney Memorial Church, 4465 Poling Boulevard, Penney Farms, FL 32079. Condolences to the Hobgood family, please email Lucy Hobgood-Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to daughter Anne Zolnor, 215 S. Ocean Grande Drive, PH 3, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082-4590.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Education Congo-UPC, 2216 Elgin Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27103, or online www.educationcongo.org with the designation “Hobgood Named Fund.”