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Hobbs built nursery business and helped with atomic bomb
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From co-founding one of the county’s most noted nurseries, to working on the atomic bomb, Sarah Frances Panter Hobbs was among Warren County’s leading women of achievement. She died Sunday at the age of 88.
“Frances was like a mother to me,” said Margaret Hobbs, her daughter-in-law of 44 years. “She was a wonderful inspiration to me and to everyone else around her.”
She was married to Leslie R. Hobbs in 1946. Together they co-founded Warren County Nursery where she worked as a bookkeeper up until the time of her death.
Prior to that time, she spent her childhood in the Irving College community where she graduated from Irving College High School. She then went to Nashville to attend Nashville Business School. From there, she went to work for the Tennessee Eastman Corporation and its top-secret project in Oak Ridge.
While kept secret at that time during the latter days of World War II, the project she was working on was known as the Manhattan Project, the project that produced the atomic bomb.
“This is to certify that Frances Panter has participated in work essential to the production of the atomic bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II,” reads the certificate of appreciation presented to her by the Secretary of War on Aug. 6, 1945.
Mrs. Hobbs returned to Warren County where she and Leslie were married and raised five children, to whom she was very dedicated. Mr. Hobbs died in 2003.
The couple participated in numerous nursery conventions and trade shows. They were members of the American Association of Nurserymen and the Southern Nurserymen Association. She was inducted into the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association Hall of Fame as a life member in 2005.
Mrs. Hobbs also served on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors before leaving that seat in 1988. She was honored as Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year in 1987. She was chosen as one of the Southern Standard’s Women of Achievement in 2006.
She was an active member of Hebron Church of Christ. She was an avid bowler for many years, most recently bowling in the Gold and Silver League, taking a medal in the recent senior bowling olympics.