TO THE LAST, Julius W. Hobson Sr. remained the uncompromising curmudgeon, refusing to go quietly from his six-year battle against a cancer for which there's yet no cure. Typically, when he first warned that he was terminally ill, he said he counted on defying the illness for just about this many years - and he went on, shunning sympathy, battling complacency, infuriating some peole, inspiring others.
Until his death yesterday at the age of 54, Mr. Hobson - with his wife, Tina, and a loyal city council staff never let the business of this community drop in reference to his warning energy or to the enormous gain that he would suffer. Rather - as councilman - at - large and sole representative of the Statehood Party in the city's first elected council of the century - Mr. Hobson was still refusing to let things be. He was pushing his own legislative agenda for 1977, a list of pushing covering a broad range of local subjects from statehood to a state fair.
For 25 hell - raising years, Mr. Hobson shook Washington in unorthodox, unpredictable ways. As often as not, he was the lone front - line fighter against some aspect of racial discrimination, the gruff - and - ready tickler for equal education. He was always fast with an irreverent quip, and he never let up on his lawsuits, his books, his thorough research, his provocative political activities and his extraordinary ability to intimidate, embarrass or fool officialdom into doing something about civil rights.
In truth, though, it wasn't until the news of his illness in 1971 that the great majority of citizens paused long enough to begin appreciating the measure of the man. There was the lawsuit ending rigid tracking of public school students and Mr. Hobson's picketing and other protests that had relentlessly bulldozed down color barriers everywhere - in housing, hiring, education and anything else Mr. Hobson confronted. And just as he championed the civil rights of black people, Mr. Hobson, with equal adamance, insisted that reverse racial innuendo be challenged.
"I sleep mad," Mr. Hobson used to say, and you believed it. Still, for all his strident bluster, Julius Hobson was a deeply compassionate, gentle, generous and astonishingly candid man. His death is an enormous loss to thecommunity. But the memory of that, that pipe, that freewheeling Alabama twang and the legacy of Julius Hobson will remain to be cherished.