Dr. Donald Hammond Hobbs, a retired Baltimore County dentist who was active in professional societies, died Wednesday of a stroke at Manor Care in Towson. The longtime Lutherville resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville, he was a 1937 graduate of Franklin High School. He worked for Consolidated Engineering Co. in Puerto Rico for several years before joining the Army Air Corps during World War II.
After the war he earned a degree at the University of Maryland and then worked with his father and an uncle in the old Thomas Chew Worthington Hobbs Co., a South Howard Street auction and appraising business.
In his 30s, he decided to change careers. He enrolled at the University of Maryland dental school and graduated in 1951. He also studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and New York University.
Dr. Hobbs practiced for more than four decades, first on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville and later in Lutherville. He was a past president of the Baltimore County Dental Association.
"He had the most kindly eyes. He had a marvelous way with people and cared deeply about his patients. In a heartbeat, if it were his day off, he'd come in and meet a patient in the office," said Dr. Henry D. Holljes, his former partner and a friend for 18 years.
"He treated everyone with great dignity. He let the patients make up their own minds, but they almost always opted for the best-quality treatment," Dr. Holljes said.
He also recalled his former partner's skill with crowns and bridges.
"What I saw in Don was works of dental art," Dr. Holljes said. "I know he worked hard, but he made it look effortless. He had high energy and he loved his work."
Dr. Hobbs treated several well-known Baltimoreans, including Paramount Pictures film star Dorothy Lamour, professional tennis player Don Budge and Metropolitan Opera soprano Rosa Ponselle, whom he accompanied to performances of the Baltimore Opera Company. He also treated Dr. J. Ben Robinson, dean of the University of Maryland dental school.
"He was well-versed in the field of reconstruction of the mouth," said Dr. Sheldon Silverman, past president of Baltimore City Dental Society, who lives in Pikesville. "He enjoyed speaking to other dentists about the various techniques he used."
Dr. Hobbs lectured to dental hygiene students at the Baltimore City Community College. He would take time off during skiing trips in the West to speak at dental professional meetings there. He was also the author of numerous professional articles.
He retired from his practice in 1996.
Because he had been trained as an auctioneer, he donated his services to charity events at the Roland Park Country School, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the St. Paul's Schools and James Lawrence Kernan Hospital.
He was a past president of the Pikesville Kiwanis Club and served on the board of the Greenspring-Worthington Valley Planning Council, a group partially named for members of his family, who were early Baltimore County settlers.
Among the professional associations to which he belonged were the national and state dental associations, the American Society for Preventive Dentistry, the Canadian American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 28 at St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, 11856 Mays Chapel Road.
Survivors include his wife of 32 years, the former Jeanne Patton; a son, Donald Winfield Hobbs of Boca Raton, Fla.; two daughters, Mary Worthington Hanson of Spartanburg, S.C., and Dona McKenna of Augusta, Ga.; three stepsons, Robert Baker Jr. of Burlington, Vt., Steven Baker and William Baker, both of Towson; and six grandchildren. A previous marriage ended in divorce.