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Joanne Hobo

Contractor, loving matriarch, active volunteer

Joanne Hobo, a La Verne resident who was involved in the Claremont community with her daughters and grandchildren and also worked for the Claremont-based certified public accounting firm Gray, Salt & Associates, died on June 8, 2015. She was 80. 

She was born Johanna Christina Van Ingen Schenau on September 26, 1934 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her father, Willem Jan Batiste Van Ingen Schenau, was an organist, choir director, church music composer and head of purchasing at the nation’s leading sugar company, CSM Sugar Factory. 

Joanne, or Hanny as she was called as a child, grew up giving declamatory readings of poetry and scripture in churches, prisons and such renowned concert halls as Het Concertgebouw. Her mother, Johanna Wilhelmina Van Ingen Schenau-Breman, was a devoted homemaker and volunteer with the International Red Cross. Joanne was the middle child—her older brother Warner and she often got into mischief—and she had a younger brother Bert whom she liked to mother.

She lived in Amsterdam and attended Protestant schools there. During her elementary school years, Joanne and her family survived World War II and Holland’s “Hunger Winter” during the Nazi Occupation. As a child, she walked to school daily through a Jewish middleclass neighborhood and often shared the horrors of witnessing the razzias, or raids, on the Jews who were being rounded up in trucks and sent to deportation camps. She described how helpless she felt seeing families screaming for each other and shoved in separate wagons. 

Her father, the organist of the Waal Church where her family attended, organized the children of the church to stay with farming families at a sister church in Friesland. Travel was risky, undertaken in boats in the dead of night trying to escape the eye of the oppressor. Upon arrival in Friesland, the family slated to house her was disappointed that she was a girl as her nickname was “Hans,” typically a boy’s name.

When the war was over, she and her eldest brother Warner traveled a few hundred miles back to Amsterdam by foot and sometimes by bike.

After the war, she graduated a year early from an all-girls’ high school where she excelled at language, art and mathematics. A girl of many talents, she was also a skilled gymnast, and once won a silver medal in the City of Amsterdam championships. Joanne subsequently spent a year on a farm in France and then returned to work at a bookstore as a bookkeeper. During this time, she was still active in her church and was part of an acting group called Con Spirito (with spirit), a Christian drama troop which performed all over the Netherlands.

It is there that she met her future husband Gary, or Ger, Hobo. As the story goes, the group from upscale Amsterdam South where she lived needed another male actor. Gerrit Hobo, from the more working-class Amsterdam West, was appointed. The duo soon performed in a host of plays together including Een Vesting Viel (A Fort Fell), where the couple was engaged to be married as part of the plot of the play. Three months later, Ger asked for Hanny’s hand in marriage in real life. She accepted and they were married on October 21, 1955 at city hall in Amsterdam and began their work as managers of a Christian Inn in Holland’s countryside.

During this time, with great joy and excitement, they were blessed with their first daughter, Johanna Wilhelmina. Blessings kept coming as two years later came Hilde Annemarie.

After 10 years of hotel and restaurant management, with a few renovations including a castle, the couple set off for a new life in the United States following Joanne’s brother Warner, or Warren, as he was then called. Before they left in June 1966, Mrs. Hobo was expecting their third child. She and the family arrived in southern California, and in January 1967 blessing number three arrived in the form of Inge Janice. Inge was the first of the family to be born on US soil.

Not one to waste time, Mrs. Hobo quickly got to work using her accounting skills, first at a drapery company and then at Cable Commuter Airlines, later Golden West Airlines in Ontario, where she was chief accountant. There was another blessing on the way: in 1970 her fourth daughter, Christina Johanna, was born.

In 1971, she continued to utilize her accounting skills as vice president and controller at William E. Myers Corp., a residential building company. After this exposure to the construction industry, in 1975 Mrs. Hobo became one of the first women in the state of California to obtain her General Contracting License. License in hand, she established her own commercial building firm entitled Heritage Development Company and used Amsterdam canal houses as the company logo. During this time, she built several high-rise buildings used for the legal and medical fields in Santa Ana near the federal courthouse.

In 1984, she moved her business to the Pomona area under the new name Leyden-Pacific. She continued to work up until her mid-70s, using her accounting skills at her daughter Johanna’s CPA firm. 

Not one to limit her talents to the professional world, Mrs. Hobo was a consummate volunteer as a Girl Scout troop leader, Sunday School teacher, church choir member, accountant for Valley Community Drive-In Church, president of the Reformed Church Women at New Hope Community Church, regional director and national treasurer of the National Association of Women in Construction, event manager for the Dutch American Heritage Day Gala, active member and newsletter editor for the Netherlands American Society, and one of the founders of the Netherlands American Business Association, which later became the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. 

Anyone who met Joanne knew she loved a good party, and she was the definition of an extrovert. Not only could she organize an entire event, she was the life of the party and a force to be reckoned with. She knew just about everybody at any event she attended and never shied away from meeting new people, nor from telling you her opinion about things. She was tenacious, talented, dutiful, faithful and proud. She took the message of Jesus urging his followers to use all of their talents quite literally. By day, she was a professional businesswoman and in her free time she was devoted to her family, her church and her community.

She will be sorely missed, but her legacy of duty, service, faithfulness and hard work is not only evidenced in her four daughters who all work professionally and concurrently volunteer, but also in her grandchildren who do the same.

Mrs. Hobo is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Johanna Sweaney Salt and Jonathan Salt, Annemarie and Matthew Snyder, Inge Hobo-Scheinfarb and David Scheinfarb and Christina Oudshoorn-Hobo and Stevin Oudshoorn, and by her grandchildren, Calli, Dalton and Allyson Sweaney, Evan, Brendan and Grant Snyder, Jacob, Sarah and Ethan Scheinfarb and Neale, Eden and Lieve Oudshoorn-Hobo.

She also leaves her brother and sister-in-law, Bert and Janneke van Ingen Schenau; her nephew and his wife, Willem and Anita van Ingen Schenau, and their children Jesse and Sil; and her nephew and his wife, Warner and Suus van Ingen Schenau, and their son Mik.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, June 13 at Sierra Vista Church in Upland. Donations may be made in Joanne Hobo’s name to the Challenges Foundation (challengesfoundation.org), an organization aimed at improving the lives of veterans and foster kids through sailing.

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