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Hobie Wilson

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

Hobie Wilson hosted big-band radio shows on two Sonoma County stations in the 1970s and co-founded the international Bing Crosby collector newsletter.

He did the Sunday show on Petaluma's KTOB radio and was an on-air contributor at KORK-FM in Sonoma. He shared his extensive knowledge of big band and jazz music and spun records from his vast collection of recordings.

Also, he helped start Bing's Friends and Collector Society and published the quarterly newsletter for three decades until about eight years ago.

His hobby allowed him to rub elbows with some of the greats, including Crosby, Bob Hope and many Hollywood celebrities.

Wilson, a Sonoma County resident for more than 40 years, died of cancer Tuesday at his Petaluma home. He was 80.

"He was a very shy kind of fellow until you got him on a topic that he loved, which was family and certainly music," said Cathie Wilson, his wife of 56 years. "Bing Crosby was his passion."

He was born Hobart Garrett Wilson Jr. in 1932 in San Francisco. He went to City College and served in the Army at the end of the Korean War.

His interest in music began early.

He bought his first Crosby record at 15 and kept on collecting. He was a fixture at Crosby golf tournaments in Pebble Beach and even talked to his idol once.

He was so impressed with Crosby that he could barely speak, his wife said.

"He liked Bing because of his talent," his wife said. "He thought he had the best voice around. Do not play Sinatra music for him."

The couple married in 1958. They had three daughters.

Wilson worked at the post office in San Francisco for 36 years. He was safety supervisor before retiring 20 years ago.

They lived in Sonoma from the 1960s and moved to Petaluma seven years ago.

In his retirement, Wilson and his wife traveled to Ireland and took cruises.

"He was a happy man, particularly after he retired," his wife said.

In addition to his wife, Wilson is survived by daughters Elizabeth Hanak of Petaluma, Eileen Bowers of Sonoma and Loretta Devito of Santa Rosa. He is also survived by his sister, Edith Stanley of Washington, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

There will be no funeral service.

-- Paul Payne

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