Hobart “Hobie” Sherwood Billingsley, 95, of Bloomington passed away early on Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 with his family at his side at the Indiana University Health Hospice House in Bloomington, Indiana. A loving father, grandfather, veteran, coach and mentor to many, Hobie leaves behind a legacy of faith, childlike humor, and an unwavering ability to inspire all who met him. As a world-renowned diving coach, Hobie challenged hundreds of divers to realize their full potential, both on and off the diving board.
Hobie was born December 2, 1926 in Erie Pennsylvania to James H. Billingsley and Wenonah Willing Billingsley. He found his passion for diving early in his life, finishing third in the high school national diving championships in 1943, and winning two NCAA diving titles while studying and diving at Ohio State University in 1945.
Hobie would later serve honorably in Okinawa during WWII in the Army Air Corp. Following the war, Hobie returned to Ohio State and received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1951. In 1953 he earned a Master's in Physical Education from the University of Washington in Seattle. Hobie married Mary Drake in 1952 and eventually fathered three children: Nancy, Jim, and Elizabeth.
In 1959, Indiana University swim coach, James “Doc” Counsilman paved the way for Hobie to become the first IU diving coach. While at IU, Hobie led his divers to win six NCAA championships and 23 Big Ten titles. His distinctive scientific approach to diving practices using Newton’s Laws of Motion, previously unheard of in the sport, solidified Hobie’s position as the respected authority in competition diving.
As the diving coach for six Olympic diving teams, including the 1968 and 1972 US Olympic diving teams, Hobie’s divers won 132 major titles and 7 Olympic medals. Nearly all his divers remained loyal, life-long friends who loved to stage reunions with their old coach, frequently returning to Bloomington from all around the world. Those that knew Hobie know he truly cared for and loved all of his divers and students.
Hobie founded the World Diving Coaches Association and was admitted to several Athletic Halls of Fame including the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the IU Athletics Hall of Fame. He considered one of his greatest honors was to be chosen to recite the Judges Oath during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, while serving as an Olympic judge.
Hobie attended Bloomington Free Methodist Church, and First Church of God in Bedford where he was baptized in Christ. He had a deep faith in God and was always grateful for the gifts, opportunities, and protection the Lord provides.
Survivors include his two daughters, Nancy (Bruce McConnell) Farmer of Clermont, FL and Elizabeth (Scott) Bender of Bloomington; a son, Jim (Teresa) Billingsley of Bloomington; eight grandchildren, Carly (Justin) Vest, Lindsey Farmer, Kyle (Kaitlyn) Huttenlocker, Shaun Huttenlocker, Amber Kay, Cory Clarke, Cody Billingsley, Savannah (Joseph) Curry and Lizzie Billingsley; nine great grandchildren, Meleah Vest, Caden Huttenlocker, Carson Huttenlocker, Callahan Litwin, Anna Kay, Jackson Kay, Sadie Kay, Penelope Clarke and Quinn Clarke; his caretaker, Joyce Gray; and two nieces, and a nephew. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, James Billingsley, and his partner in love Ellender Lee, whose family Hobie remained close with.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to the staff of IU Health Bloomington Hospital, the Hospice House, and especially to caretaker Joyce Gray who provided countless hours of compassionate care.
There will be a Gathering of Family and Friends on Friday, July 22, 2022 from 4:00 – 8:00 PM in Day & Deremiah-Frye Funeral Home, 4150 E Third St. Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 11:00 AM in the funeral home with Pastor Travis Inman officiating. Burial will follow in Clear Creek Cemetery with Military Honors provided by the Monroe County Veterans Honor Guard.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.DayDeremiahFrye.com.
Donations given in Hobie’s memory can be made to the Hobie Billingsley Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County at https://cfbmc.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create/fund?funit_id=1594