William P. Hobby Jr.
5th Chancellor of the University of Houston System
In office
Preceded byAlexander F. Schilt
Succeeded byArthur K. Smith
37th Lieutenant Governor of Texas
In office
January 16, 1973 – January 15, 1991
GovernorDolph Briscoe
Bill Clements
Mark White
Preceded byBen Barnes
Succeeded byBob Bullock
Personal details
William Pettus Hobby Jr.

(1932-01-19) January 19, 1932 (age 89)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Diana Poteat Stallings (d.2014)
ResidenceHouston, Texas
Alma materRice University
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Years of service1953–1957
RankLieutenant (JG)

William Pettus Hobby Jr. (born January 19, 1932)[1] is an American Democratic politician who served a record eighteen years as the 37th Lieutenant Governor of Texas. He held that office from January 16, 1973 to January 15, 1991 for an unprecedented five terms; he was the last lieutenant governor to serve a two-year term and the first elected to a four-year term when the Texas Constitution was amended to lengthen terms for statewide elected officeholders to four years beginning with the 1974 elections. The principal duty of the Texas lieutenant governor is to preside over the Texas State Senate.[2]

Early years

Hobby was born in Houston, Texas, the only son of William P. Hobby Sr. and Oveta Culp Hobby. Both of his grandfathers were in the Texas Legislature. His father was also a lieutenant governor of Texas and the governor from 1917 to 1921, and his mother, a Democrat, was the first person appointed to the new position of United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican. She served in that position, now the United States Department of Health and Human Services, from 1953 to 1955.[3]

Hobby attended high school at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. Hobby then attended Rice University in Houston. After graduation, he served in the United States Navy for four years in naval intelligence.

For many years, the Hobby family owned the now-defunct Houston Post, at which Hobby worked. He worked his way through the editorial department. When his father became ill in 1963, Hobby assumed editorial and managerial control of the newspaper. He remained president of the Post for twenty years – until the family sold the newspaper in 1983. It was absorbed in 1995 by the Houston Chronicle, which is still published. [4]

Political career

Hobby's lengthy career in government began in 1959, when he served as parliamentarian of the Texas Senate under Lieutenant Governor Ben Ramsey. He was appointed to the Presidential Task Force on Suburban Problems and to the National Citizens Advisory Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Governor Preston Smith appointed him to the Texas Air Control Board. Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes appointed him chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Welfare Reform in 1969. Hobby resigned from the Texas Air Control Board in 1971 to run for lieutenant governor.[4]

Lieutenant Governor of Texas

Hobby was elected lieutenant governor in November 1972 with 93 percent of the statewide vote, having defeated token opposition, not from a Republican but from the Hispanic former third party, Raza Unida, which ran Alma Canales of Edinburg even though she did not meet the age requirement for the office.[5] The position had opened when the two-term incumbent, Ben F. Barnes, ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and finished in third place. Hobby was an easy winner in most of his elections, including a high-profile race in 1982 in which he defeated the Republican nominee George Strake Jr., also a Houston businessman, a former Secretary of State of Texas, and later the Republican state chairman. Hobby was re-elected in 1974 (when the term was extended to four years) defeating Republican Gaylord Marshall. Hobby polled 1,170,253 votes (74 percent) to Marshall's 379,108 (24 percent) and in their 1978 rematch with Hobby polling 1,434,613 votes (64.91 percent) to Marshall's 760,642 votes (34.42 percent), 1982 defeating Strake with Hobby polling 1,830,870 votes (58.35 percent) to Strake's 1,272,644 votes (40.56 percent), and 1986 defeating David Davidson with Hobby polling 2,032,781 votes (61.37 percent) to Davidson's 1,231,858 votes (37.19 percent). Hobby did not seek an unprecedented sixth term in 1990, and the lieutenant governorship passed to fellow Democrat then-Comptroller Bob Bullock on January 15, 1991.

In addition to presiding over the state senate, Hobby served in numerous other political leadership capacities. These included appointments as chair of the Governor's Energy Advisory Council (GEAC) (1973–1977), the Texas Energy Advisory Council (TEAC) (1977–1979), the special advisory committee which recommended the Texas Sunset Act (1970s), and the Joint Advisory Committee on Educational Services to the Deaf (1976–1979); co-chair of the Texas Energy and Natural Resource Advisory Council (TENRAC) (1979–1983); vice-chair of the Criminal Justice Policy Council; ex officio member of the Texas Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations; and member of the Select Committee on Public Education (1983–1984). He was also chair of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors in 1974. In 1985, he joined the mental health activist, Helen J. Farabee of Wichita Falls, in convincing the legislature to create the Department of Mental Health Mental Retardation, known as MHMR.[6]

"Over his years as Lieutenant Governor, Hobby gained a reputation as an astute fiscal manager and parliamentary leader in the Texas Senate," according to a biographical sketch in the state archives.

"Some of the highlights of Hobby's years as Lieutenant Governor included reforms in the appropriations process such as zero-based budgeting, which required agencies to justify their budgets regardless of previous budget levels, and a requirement that the fiscal impact of bills be determined and reported to the Legislature in advance of passage. Also passed during his tenure were the indigent health care plan, the Texas water plan, and the school finance bill of 1984 that redistributed state funds among the state's school districts, required teacher testing, and created the controversial 'no-pass-no-play' rule."[7]

After politics

Hobby served as Chancellor of the University of Houston System from 1995 to 1997. He told Texas Monthly's Paul Burka that he had never expected the call.[3]

Also, Hobby remained active in business. He served on the boards of directors for various firms, including Southwest Airlines, a position he held for seventeen years. He was Trustee of the LBJ Foundation. He held the Sid Richardson Chair in Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and was also Radoslav Tsanoff Professor at Rice University. He continued to be active in civic affairs as a commissioner for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.[4] In 2010, he published a book, How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics. This book was produced as an audiobook by Assistive Media for the Texas Talking Book Program to serve Texans with blindness or visual, physical, or reading disabilities.

Personal life

He was married to the former Diana Poteat Stallings until her death on July 4, 2014,[8] and is the father of Laura Poteat Hobby Beckworth, Paul William Hobby, Andrew Purefoy Hobby, and Katherine Pettus Hobby Gibson. Diana Hobby was associate editor of Studies in English Literature as well as was book editor of The Houston Post. As a couple, they were strong supporters of the arts and literature, libraries in particular. Democrat Paul Hobby attempted to extend the family's public service into a fourth generation; however, he narrowly lost the race for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 1998 to the Republican nominee, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.[9]


William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building at 333 Guadalupe Street in downtown Austin, Texas
William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building at 333 Guadalupe Street in downtown Austin, Texas

On May 5, 1989, Hobby was honored by the state senate. The William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building in Austin is named in his honor. It houses the Texas Department of Insurance.

The Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston is named for Hobby and his family.

See also


  1. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997.
  2. ^ Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846-2002. Austin, Texas: Texas Legislative Council. 2002.
  3. ^ a b "Public Service • Bill Hobby: Whether it's his time or his money, he gives till it helps," by Paul Burka, Texas Monthly, September 1997, [1] accessed March 1, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c "William P. Hobby, Jr.," Texas Politics website, [2] accessed March 1, 2008.
  5. ^ "La Raza Unida". tshaonline.corg. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  6. ^ "Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "Helen J. Farabee", The Handbook of Texas". tshaonline.org. Retrieved December 8, 2009.
  7. ^ Texas State Archives, [3] accessed March 1, 2008.
  8. ^ Hlavaty, Craig. "Diana Hobby, wife of William P. Hobby Jr., dies at age 83". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  9. ^ King, Michael. "Smells Like Victory". Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle. Retrieved February 19, 2014.

Further reading