Kenneth J. Hobbins

Kenneth J. Hobbins

May 7, 1955 – November 28, 2020
Age 65 of White Bear Lake. Ken Hobbins never came across a piece of wedding cake he didn’t like. Even the ones covered with marginal Crisco-like frosting were delicious to Ken. And if he attended a wedding where exceptional cake was served, he had no shame in asking people who hadn’t eaten their cake if he could have their serving. He once took his wife, who had pneumonia, to the emergency room right after the bride and groom had exchanged their vows, telling the doctor that he was on a tight schedule and please treat his wife so he could bring her home and then return for what appeared to be a great wedding cake. He promised his wife that he would bring her a piece while leaving her home with an inhaler. Ken did what he promised; returned home with a slice of cake, but then he asked Corey if he could have it. Ken died on Saturday, November 28 at The Pillars Hospice Home in Oakdale, Minnesota. He was 65-years-old, but he packed a lot of living into every one of those years. Despite a diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor at the age 23, it never occurred to Ken that he could die. He went on to complete two master’s programs and finished his career as a rehab counselor for the State of MN. Ken met Corey while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point during a semester abroad in England, where his and Corey’s love of all things English began. During their 42-year marriage, they returned twenty-two times. Ken remembered towns, cities, villages and hamlets across Britain, oftentimes, by their cathedrals AND by the quality of their cake. Ken and Corey graduated from college at 2 p.m. and married the same day at 5 p.m. They honeymooned – not surprisingly – in England. Ken loved gardening, or as his wife often said, “digging in the dirt” and loved to drag his often reluctant wife to any garden center he found, always searching for a hosta he didn’t have. His wife called him her “Hosta Honey”; sometimes affectionately, sometimes not. On March 31, 2018, Ken fell in his garage and suffered a traumatic brain injury. After nearly four months in hospitals and rehab centers, he went to live at St. Anthony Park Home (SAPH). There Ken had an exceptional care team, including his physical therapist (who Ken called his ‘trainer’) Joe. Due to Ken’s persistence and Joe’s skill, a miracle happened: After 16 months Ken left SAPH and was able to move back in with his wife Corey to their new home. Ken experienced seven wonderful months in this new home, and with help from his wife and his friends Cathy and Stephanie, he was able to plant a new garden at the lake and at his new home. And of course, there was always cake. Ken is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and June (Krause) Hobbins. He is survived by Corey, his wife of 42 years, his brother-in-law Scott Wille (Nancy Prussing) and sister-in-law Kimberly Wille (Randy Simonini). He leaves behind many devoted friends who were very present in his life his last two years, including Cathy, Roger, Peter, Paul, James, Stephanie, Barb, Kay, Matt, and Lorraine. Besides cake, Ken loved collecting fishing lures, even though he never fished a day in his life. He appreciated the colors and shapes of handmade, folk art fishing decoys. Ken loved to have deep conversations with people and even after his brain injury, remembered details of his friends’ lives, genuinely caring about their welfare. Ken loved nature, never failing to notice and marvel at God’s creation, particularly during the last autumn of his life. Ken loved Christmas decorations and never believed you could have too many, a sentiment not always shared by his wife. He loved an unlikely trio made up of Julia Roberts, Wolf Blitzer, and the Doobie Brothers, as well as his friends and family. And despite the pneumonia-ER-going back for cake episode, Ken deeply adored his wife, Corey, telling her many times over the last seven months “you are prettier than the day we got married”. Ken was sometimes prone to hyperbole. Ken was a man of integrity, humor, and had a deep and abiding faith. Every day he talked to Jesus, thanking Him for the last seven months, waking up nearly every morning with a smile on his face, and telling his wife, “Well, I’m not dead yet!” A funeral service to celebrate Ken’s life will take place next spring or summer, at a time when it is safe for friends and family to hug one another once again. And in honor of Ken, there will definitely be cake; very, very good cake. If you would like to honor Ken’s memory, memorials are preferred to St Anthony Park Home/ Rehabilitation Department, The Pillars Hospice, The Minnesota Arboretum or the Jesuit Retreat House at Demontreville. Rest in peace dear, sweet, much-loved man. (Published in the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune on December 6, 2020)