Dr. Pierce “Pete” Francis Hoban (1930‒2023), educator, age 93. Resided in Vicar’s Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Blessed with a wonderful quality of life to his last day on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, when the doctors at Mayo Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, said “his heart just gave out.”
Pete was truly a self-made man. He was born into a loving but humble family in New York City during the Depression on June 19, 1930. He served honorably after high school in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Korean War. He always said, if not for the benefits he received for his military service as part of the GI Bill, he never would have earned his undergraduate degree from Fordham University, his master’s degree from New York University or his doctorate in education from Columbia University.
Working as a high school math teacher while earning his doctorate, his talents and people skills were quickly recognized as he moved up the ranks of education, becoming a superintendent of schools at the age of 30.
He spent the next 35 years serving as a superintendent of schools in increasingly larger and more complex school systems, including the Three Village School District on Long Island and the Skokie School District in the suburbs of Chicago. He was driven in his career by his deep passion for helping others succeed by achieving their educational goals. In this regard, he was lucky enough to have touched and impacted in a positive way too many students, teachers and other support staff to count.
Although Pete loved helping others, by far the most important thing in his life was his family. He married Mary Connolly on June 19, 1956, in Corona, New York. They raised four boys, Tim, Mike, Pete and Bill. To no surprise, the values he instilled in his sons allowed them to achieve successful careers after earning college and postgraduate degrees.
During their 64-year marriage, their home was always a bee hive of activity between family, friends and sporting events. During those early years raising his family, Pete loved traveling on family vacations in their Winnebago recreational vehicle. Whether traveling to national parks across the country, going on skiing or golfing vacations, he always viewed these trips as some of the best times of his life.
After retiring in 1994, Pete and Mary started a new chapter in their lives, moving from the Chicago area to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. An avid golfer and member of the Sawgrass Country Club, he spent decades trying to perfect his golf swing. Always with his self-deprecating humor, he would quip he did a much better job at helping others as superintendent of schools than he ever did trying to perfect his golf swing.
Thankfully, Pete loved retirement and all the friends they made along the way. He and Mary kept active and traveled extensively to Europe and throughout the United States. They moved to Vicar’s Landing in 2014 and were regulars at dinner theaters and other activities. He was not shy about showing off his acting skills in plays and even winning a bocce ball tournament.
The COVID-19 pandemic was hard on everyone, including Pete. In June 2020, he lost the love of his life Mary to cancer. Her loss was particularly hard as he was reduced to visiting her at Vicar’s Skilled Nursing Facility by looking in her window from outside the building and calling her on the phone due to strict COVID rules. Despite losing Mary, he never lost his zest for life. Instead, he adopted the motto “Keep active and enjoy life.” To that end, after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, he traveled with his sons on numerous adventures including trips to South Korea to visit his grandson serving in the U.S. Army (he even peeked into North Korea along the DMZ), boat rides in Los Angeles, Christmas in Lake Tahoe (with too much snow), New York City sightseeing trips, driving five days along the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to Seattle, a train ride from Chicago to San Francisco through the Rocky Mountains and even a hot air balloon ride.
In the last two months of his life, he especially enjoyed his 93rd birthday bash on Long Island with 70+ relatives and friends attending as well as a seven-day Caribbean cruise. Lastly, he was scheduled to go with his sons on a trip to Switzerland in September but unfortunately God had other plans for him.
A life well lived. Pete is survived by his sons, Tim, Mike, Pete and Bill and six grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. A military honor guard ceremony will take place immediately following the funeral service outside the Columbarium followed by interment. A reception will be held at 1 p.m. in the Parlor Room at Vicar’s Landing. All are welcome at the reception.
In lieu of flowers please consider giving to the Andrew Connolly SJ Scholarship Fund, which provides educational scholarships to needy students at Xavier High School in Truk, Micronesia (located in the South Pacific by Guam, where Mary’s brother served for 40+ years as a Jesuit priest). Donations can be made via their website: www.sjnen.org/donate-now-xavier-high-school-chuuk.
Indicate in the comments section of the website that your donation is for the Andrew Connolly Scholarship Fund.
Donations can also be made by mail by sending a check to: USA East Province of the Society of Jesuits, 39 East 83rd St., New York, NY 10028 (make check out to: “USA East Province” and in the memo section indicate for “Andrew Connolly Scholarship Fund at Xavier HS in Micronesia”).