In 1972, Roland "Ron" Hobbs said "yes" when asked to be a member of the Wheeling Park Commission, which oversees the operation of the city's two grand recreational showpieces - Oglebay and Wheeling parks.
Never did he envision that his "yes" would last 41 years. Hobbs, 80, recently retired from the commission, suggesting to city fathers that it was time for "a younger thinker."
"It's been a wonderful experience serving the community ... and the commission and the park employees," Hobbs said. "Doug Dalby, Randy Worls and before them, Earl Gaylor and Homer Fish, have done an awful lot of good things over the years."
Hobbs will serve as grand marshal in the Oglebayfest parade set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, starting at the Good Zoo. At his final commission meeting, he also was honored with a proclamation.
A retired board chairman at WesBanco, Hobbs said he loved the parks when he was growing up and rolled that passion into his work on the commission.
He said many changes have taken place at the parks, particularly at Oglebay. He compared his own childhood, when youngsters had to walk to where they were going, to today's environment where children are always seeking something new.
"Things are so different now. Kids think differently than we did and life's very fast-paced today," he said.
Hobbs also noted the shift at Oglebay from primarily local visitors to more out-of-town guests enjoying the park's activities and amenities. The park also has evolved from a city park to a resort destination complete with the West Spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, various dining options, two championship golf courses and the annual Winter Festival of Lights.
G. Randolph "Randy" Worls, chief executive officer of the Oglebay Foundation, has worked with Hobbs for decades and said he appreciates his dedication to the parks.
"Ron, first and foremost, has been a very effective commissioner. He's been very aggressive in setting strong policy and, at the same time, has encouraged the professional management of the parks to do their own thing," Worls said.
Worls noted that Hobbs was commission chairman for about 15 years during Worls' tenure as Wheeling Park Commission president and chief executive officer.
"We always had a very strong working relationship. I admire him for his ... counsel when issues came up. He has given good opinions and solutions to problems. He has been an outstanding member of the commission," Worls added.
At the recommendation of Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron, city resident Joan Stamp has been named as the newest park commissioner. She joins fellow board members Susan Farnsworth, Wilbur S. Jones Jr., G. Ogden Nutting and Dr. Donald Hofreuter. All commissioners serve without compensation.