William P. Hobby Sr.

William P. Hobby, Sr. Biographical Sketch

William Pettus Hobby, editor, publisher, and governor of Texas from 1917 to 1921, was born in Moscow, Texas, on March 26, 1878, the son of Eudora Adeline (Pettus) and Edwin E. Hobby.
One of six children, Hobby moved in 1893 with his family from Livingston to Houston, where he entered Houston High School. In 1895, he began working for the Houston Post as a circulation clerk. Hobby became a business writer for the Post in August, 1901.

He began to take an active interest in politics, was a founder of the Young Man’s Democratic Club of Houston, and in 1904 was secretary of the party’s state executive committee. He became city editor, then managing editor of the Post, and participated in the covering of some of the most spectacular stories of the time. In 1907 he left the Post to become managing editor and part owner of the Beaumont Enterprise, which he soon acquired.

Hobby was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 and was re-elected in 1916. He was married in 1915 to Willie Cooper, daughter of former United States Representative Samuel Bronson Cooper. She died in 1929. When Governor James Edward Ferguson was removed from office in 1917, Hobby became the 26th governor of Texas and the youngest man, at age 39, to hold the office. Hobby served during an eventful period. During World War I he set up an effective military draft system for Texas, a state in which half the country’s military camps and most of its airfields were located.

In 1918, Hobby defeated Ferguson by the largest majority ever received in a Democratic primary. Hobby’s administration was the passage of measures for drought relief, runoff requirements in party primaries, and state aid for schools and highways. He appointed the first Highway Commission in 1917. Laws included measures for oil conservation, the establishment of the oil and gas division of the Railroad Commission, the creation of the Board of Control, and provisions for free school textbooks.

After completing his term, he returned to the Beaumont Enterprise and purchased the Beaumont Journal. He retained control of both papers for more than a decade. In 1924, he became president of the Houston Post-Dispatch. When J.E. Josey acquired the newspaper in 1931 from Ross Sterling, Hobby continued in the presidency and maintained executive control. In 1939 he acquired the paper, again called the Post.

In February, 1931, Hobby married Oveta Culp of Killeen and Houston, a former parliamentarian of the Texas House, who became a Post staff member, served in World War II as commander of the Women’s Army Corps, and served in Dwight David Eisenhower administration as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Hobbys had a son and a daughter.

Under Hobby, the Post grew in circulation and prestige. The Houston Post Company also included the radio station, KPRC, and the television station, KPRC-TV. In August, 1955, Hobby became chairman of the board of the company, with Mrs. Hobby as president and editor.

Hobby died in Houston on June 7, 1964. A state historical marker at his birthplace was dedicated at Moscow in 1964. Hobby Field and Hobby elementary school in Houston were named for him.

Governor W.P. Hobby signed the Texas Woman Suffrage Resolution in a ceremony in the Texas Senate on Feb. 5, 1919. Taking part in the ceremony are senate leaders and sponsors of the suffrage movement.