Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Ben Hobgood

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Ben Hobgood

Dr. Ben Clay Hobgood, 86, of Penney Farms, passed away Saturday, December 13, 2014 at his home.

Ben-Hobgood-in-his-birth-village_-Lotumbe_-Democratic-Republic-of-Congo.jpgBen was born October 31, 1928 in Lotumbe, Democratic Republic of Congo to the late Dr. Henry Clay and Tabitha (Alderson). Ben and his wife Betsy spent most of their professional lives working in the Congo, leading to Ben being awarded the nation’s top honor in 1994, “The Order of the Leopard.” His service to higher education administration resulted in three honorary doctorates: from his alma mater, Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, in 1970; from the National University of Zaire (now Congo) in 1972; and from Congo Protestant University in 2009.  In 2000, Transylvania University also presented him with a distinguished achievement award in recognition of contributions to his profession, community and alma mater. 

Ben’s contributions included being instrumental in the formation of the Free University of the Congo (now called Congo Protestant University),  an ecumenical institution that struggled for its first years but which today has four faculties and more than 8,000 students.  Ben served in several capacities at this university, including as President. Upon retirement, Ben initiated the university’s North American Liaison Bureau and in a pro bono capacity raised more than $1 million in scholarship funds aimed at helping young Congolese leaders who have gone on to build their nation.   Ben’s Congolese friends affectionately said he was “an American with a Congolese heart,” who could make positive things happen with few tools and little money.

Ben, who also held a Master’s of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Divinity from the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary), served as Penney Retirement Community’s Assistant Administrator for Business and Finance from 1991-1993.  He and his wife Betsy made Penney Retirement Community their permanent home after active lives in Congo, Kentucky, Texas and North Carolina.

Survivors are his wife of almost 65 years, Betsy Bowen Hobgood; daughter Anne Zolnor and son in law Ali of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL; daughter Lucy Hobgood-Brown and son in law Kevin of Sydney, Australia; daughter Susan Phillips of New Braunfels, TX; grandson Darius and his wife Regina and great grandson, Theo; grandchildren Daniel, Matthew and Betsy; and brother Reverend W. Chris Hobgood, of Ocean Pines, Maryland.  Preceding Ben in death were his siblings, Bob, Burnett, Kathryn and Newell.

Condolences may be sent to Anne Zolnor, at email, 215 S. Ocean Grande Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082.  A service of remembrance will be held on Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. at Penney Memorial Church, 4465 Poling Blvd, Penney Farms, FL.  Memorial gifts may be made to the North American Liaison Bureau (Congo Protestant University), designating the “B and B Hobgood Named Fund,” P.O. Box 545, Penney Farms, FL 32079 or online