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Retired Air Force colonel, 93, crafts walking sticks to help community

By JEN BALDUF | Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio | Published: December 12, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — A 93-year-old retired Air Force colonel has turned a hobby into a helping hand for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

John Hobson whittles walking sticks, which he sells for $3 each from the end of the driveway of a home on East Spring Valley Paintersville Road near Xenia, where he lives with the family of one of his four sons. Proceeds go to the Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry.

"He's made over a hundred and donated to date about $650 bucks to the food pantry," his son Mark Hobson said.

Another son who lives in Kentucky has been supplying the sticks. Just on Thursday evening, he brought over a load of 40 more sticks.

"He can't wait to get his hands on those," Hobson said.

John Hobson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1947. He was among the first academy graduates to take a commission with newly formed U.S. Air Force, his son Mark Hobson said. He served 22 years before he retired as a colonel. During his military career, he was stationed twice at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Age doesn't slow down John Hobson, who wants to keep active. In the summer he helps with his son's garden. Last year, he made personalized walking sticks for his grandchildren, who number 13, Mark Hobson said.

This summer, he started whittling walking sticks for sale to donate the proceeds to the food pantry.

Typically, he would make between $30 and $40 a day — most people donate more than $3 to buy the walking stick, Mark Hobson said.

"Today we sold $200 worth and have probably 50 sticks on order," he said.

This follows national coverage by FOX News after John Hobson's grandson Rob Hobson, one of Mark Hobson's nephews, shared a photo of John Hobson standing with his sign and basket of walking sticks showing how he is helping the community during the coronavirus pandemic. Since then and with the help of social media, a lot more people know about John Hobson and his hobby.

"We're going to make that food pantry some money," Mark Hobson said. "And he's thrilled. He's enjoying it."

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