Cherished memories



To the Editor:

The passing of an individual who cared so deeply and contributed so much to this community certainly causes one to reflect on how this person impacted one’s own life and career.

I am a firm believer in taking personal responsibility for one’s success and failures; however, sometimes a special individual comes along who “nudges” things in the right direction.

Don Hobbs of Bar Harbor, who passed away last week, had that kind of impact in my life. Over the years, there have been several rare individuals who have played that role, including selected friends, mentors, educators, colleagues and especially my wife.

In 1993, Lynn and I were considering a career transition, and we were open to relocating from where we were living at the time, just outside of Philadelphia. A notice in the New York Times classifieds caught our attention. It was for a medical imaging physician to cover two hospitals on the coast of Maine (Blue Hill and Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor). We had recently completed a wonderful walking vacation in the Bar Harbor and Blue Hill region, and we had fallen in love with the area.

It was on the job interview that June when I met Don. He was interim CEO of MDI Hospital. My thoughts on hearing his background as a hospital trustee were, “wow, here is a person who has really come forward to serve this organization.”

Now my curiosity was piqued about what was it about this organization that had attracted an obviously dedicated volunteer to step into this difficult leadership role. But most importantly, it was Don’s personal style and engaging personality, as well as his depth of knowledge of a complex organization, that impressed me the most.

I later learned of his accomplishments as a leader in business and local government. Along with his extensive background in community service organizations such as Rotary, the pieces began falling into place.

As we learned more about each other, one thing led to the other, and I accepted the offer to open a radiology practice here. As I interacted with Don while transitioning into my new role, I became very comfortable relating to him. He immediately put one at ease, no matter how difficult the content of a discussion.

One of the nicest honors I have received came from Don years later when he told me how pleased he was to see how well he accomplished one of his main goals as interim CEO, that of securing a radiologist for the hospital. He added how especially proud he was of the high quality medical imaging service brought about under my leadership.

When Don’s role as interim CEO ended, our professional interaction transitioned to that of friend and neighbor. We became neighbors when Lynn and I purchased our home on Hancock Street, just up the street from his. We chatted often as we encountered each other walking.

Don was genuinely interested in hearing how things were going for Lynn and me, not only at work but also in the neighborhood. I felt my respect quotient for Don tick up just a bit every time I saw him carrying his clarinet as he was heading over to play in the town band. I had attempted to play clarinet in junior high but barely got beyond the “squawking” phase.

I frequently observed Don and his wife, Martha, holding hands while walking to and from church. This elicited very fond emotions. I thought, “Here is a couple that really loves each other.” It is obvious they enjoy each other’s company when participating in activities they both love. I like to believe these traits are held in common with my own relationship.

Of course, we are saddened by Don’s passing. But when thinking of the ways our own lives and the lives of others have been touched by his wonderful personality, his sense of service and his dedication to community, I feel very encouraged. It is a privilege to have known Don Hobbs. I will always cherish those memories.

John Benson, M.D.

Chief of Radiology

MDI Hospital

Bar Harbor

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