Sumter gas station owner ‘cared about everybody’
SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — A great friend and family man, good business man, tremendous University of South Carolina Gamecocks fan and a man who cared about everybody and loved his church are all descriptions friends used to detail the life of Van Hobbs.
A longtime business owner and operator of the Gulf and BP full-service station at the corner of Liberty Street and Guignard Drive in Sumter, Hobbs passed away Sept. 18 at the age of 84.
It was through that gas station - which he operated for 37 years - that everyone knew Hobbs, longtime friend Kent Mims said.
Mims described Hobbs as “a man of his word who didn’t know a stranger.”
Their friendship developed through their love of the Gamecocks, Mims said. He recalled going on road trips with Hobbs to see USC play football - against the University of Michigan, Navy, Virginia and University of Miami, to name a few.
“When we were younger, we’d pick out one or two away games a year, and we’d go,” Mims said.
Hobbs was a Gamecock Club member for 52 years and received the Sumter Chapter Gamecock Club Fan of the Year award in 1986.
Mims said Hobbs’ character ran deeper than just being a Gamecocks fan. He said he loved Sumter and had a genuine care for people.
Friend Randy Durham, owner/operator of Liberty Seafood, 602 W. Liberty St., said he first learned of Hobbs’ character from a childhood friend who worked with Hobbs decades ago at his gas station.
Durham’s friend would say Hobbs would help people who came to the station if they were out of gas or had a flat tire, even if they didn’t have any money.
Durham said Hobbs also loved fish (“flounder dinners”) and frequented his business for the last 25 years or so.
Another friend, Larry Crolley, was Hobbs’ neighbor for about 45 years, and they both were members of Alice Drive Baptist Church and in the same Sunday School class.
Crolley said the best way to describe Hobbs was that “he was a fine Christian man.”
He recalled an older single man in his 80s who lived down the street from Hobbs who didn’t believe in the Lord. Both the older man and Hobbs were always concerned someone might try to hurt the older man.
“Van kept working with him and working with him and working with him until the man became a Christian,” Crolley said. “And about three months later, the older man died.”
In describing Hobbs’ character and life, Mims added, “There’s a special fellow in Heaven now, I can promise you that. He loved his Lord, and he loved his church.”
Hobbs was a member of Alice Drive Baptist Church for more than 60 years.
Before beginning his vocational career, Hobbs served in the U.S. Army in occupied Germany until 1958.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Patricia Anderson Hobbs. He is also survived by his daughters, Beverly Gulledge (Richard) of Wedgefield and Teresa Clement (Danny) of Florence; son, Van “Vandy” L. Hobbs Jr. (Lisa) of Columbia; granddaughter, Leslie Day Caughman (Bryan); grandsons, Whit Gulledge (Meg), Joseph Clement (Alisha), Jacob Clement (Amanda), Van L. Hobbs III and Cole Hobbs; great-grandchildren, Summer, Winnie, Lyla, Ella, Leona, Jayne and Harvey; 23 nieces and nephews; and sister-in-law, Martha Ann Anderson Blackwell (Bryan).
Information from: The Sumter Item, http://www.theitem.com