Ken Hobson

Ken Hobson

The author of the Old English proverb, “Still waters run deep,” surely had Ken Hobson in mind. This quiet, unassuming gentleman, who still carries with him a slight English accent. is chock full of surprises.

The oldest of three and the only son of a full-time homemaker and a mechanical engineer, Ken was born at home in Claphan London, England on August 8-14-1920.

Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him, Ken chose engineering as his profession, working in electronics and later as a drafter/designer for Leyland Motors. In 1953 he relocated to Canada with his wife, Rosemary, and their two daughters. A son soon joined the family. Later that next year, Ken accepted a job with Canadair designing jigs for aircraft assemblies. The family lived there for ten years.

In 1963, during the Viet Nam war era, Ken accepted a job on a test project in Alaska for the U.S. Army at Ft. Greely. He worked on the design of a track vehicle that could be air-lifted into the battle zone. With memories of how much he enjoyed his time in Alaska, he left Canadair in the spring of 1965 and went to work at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He eventually achieved the title of Assistant Professor of Engineering. After nearly 20 years at UAF he retired in the spring of 1984, but continued working part-time for the Tanana Valley Community College.

Now that he is a full-time retiree, Ken has time for his many projects and hobbies. He builds bows, practices his archery skills, and oil paints…interests he shared with his wife, who sadly passed away in 2002. Ken says, “She was the best pal I ever had. We did all kinds of things together. Crazy things.” It is clear he still misses her.

Recognized especially for his paintings of airplanes and vehicles, but also known to tackle the occasional landscape, Ken started with watercolors. Rosemary, a talented artist herself, told Ken he “was too ham fisted for watercolors and should try oils.” Under the guidance of Jeanne DeNapoli, he switched and discovered his wife was right! Although he is currently taking a break from painting, Ken stated he is tempted by the fall colors.

Ken completed his first Equinox Marathon in 1965 and subsequently finished 7 more over the years. Chena, Ken’s beautiful Husky dog and faithful companion, keeps him on his toes these days. A regular supporter of The Breakfast Place, you’ll find Ken enjoying his morning meal there most Mondays and Fridays before joining the Exercise Group. A long time member of Santa’s Seniors, he has also served on the Board.

Although Ken says he has been very lucky in many ways, he would have to say being with his children and grandchildren makes him happiest. Fortunately, he doesn’t need to go far to enjoy their company. A son and daughter, their spouses and children live in the Fairbanks area and another daughter and her family lives in the mountains of Maui. He enjoys catching a break from the long, dark winter and spending time in the Hawaiian sunshine for a few weeks each spring.

The next time you see Ken, take the time to sit down with him over a cup of coffee, and ask him to share some of his fascinating stories with you. His work at Hawker Aircraft on the Hawker Hurricane and Hawker Typhoon during WWII need to be heard. After all, it isn’t everyday you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with someone who actually helped make history!

Interview & Story by Francie Cork
Photo by Clarence Schulte

Back to Santa's Seniors Members -->