Botanist Robert Hobdy Remembered

Renowned botanist and forester Robert “Bob” Hobdy, who passed away 4 June 2023 in Makawao, Maui, is warmly remembered by his family, friends, colleagues, and the Bahá’í community. Mr. Hobdy was well known for four decades of diligent, meaningful work to protect Hawaiʻi’s native ecosystems by protecting native and endangered species and their habitats. He regularly volunteered his time to educate others on Hawaiʻi’s natural landscapes, its history, and how to care for the ‘āina. He is credited with discovering twelve species of native plants. 

A longtime and dedicated Bahá’í, Mr. Hobdy joined the Bahá’í Community in 1970 on the island of Kauaʻi, where he became the ninth member of Kawaihau’s newly formed Spiritual Assembly, the elected administrative body of the local Bahá’í community. He also served on the Spiritual Assembly of Makawao for forty-five years. 

In extending its deepest condolences to the family of the “renowned biologist and forester,” the Hawai‘i Land Trust, one of Hawai’i’s leading conservation organizations, summarized his achievements:

Hobdy, who grew up on Lāna‘i, dedicated his life to Hawai‘i’s native ecosystems. worked for the Hawai‘i State Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry & Wildlife for more than 37 years and quickly distinguished himself as a botanist that prioritized Hawai‘i’s native and endangered species and their habitats. Hobdy discovered 12 new species of native plants, two of which he described in scientific publications and five of which were named after Hobdy by other botanists. 

Throughout his career, Hobdy held various positions within the DLNR before retiring as District Manager of Maui County. Following his retirement, he was an environmental consultant specializing in flora and fauna surveys, wetland surveys, and site evaluations. Hobdy served on the boards of Maui County Arborist Advisory Committee, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, was on the committees for both the Federal Weed Risk Assessment and the Maui Invasive Species Committee. He was an advisory Board Member for Hawai‘i Land Trust. Hawai‘i is deeply indebted to Bob and his work. 

Rest in love, Bob. Mahalo for your service and commitment to our community. 

Mr. Hobdy is survived by his sons, Byron and Nathan, and his wife, Doreen. The Hobdy family has a long history in Hawai’i. His grandfather, William Cotton Hobdy, was the private physician of Queen Liliuokalani, serving in that capacity from 1914 until her death on November 11, 1917. He was among those present at her deathbed. Bob’s father and his siblings would sometimes accompany their father on house calls to the Queen, as she loved children.

On notification of his passing, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith, sent the following message:

The Universal House of Justice was sorry to learn…of the passing of Robert Warner Hobdy, a long-standing member of your community, whose services to the Cause as well as his notable contribution to the protection of Hawaii’s native ecosystems are remembered with appreciation. Kindly convey to his wife and sons as well as other family members the condolences of the House of Justice for the loss they have suffered and assure them of its supplications at the Sacred Threshold for the advancement of his soul throughout the worlds of God. Prayers will also be offered for their comfort and solace at this time of parting.

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