Statesboro and Bulloch County lost one of its brightest stars Sunday with the passing of Patricia Lee “Patsy” Rocker Bobo, a woman whose brilliant creativity, dedication to community and determination to get the job done right left an indelible mark on the community.
Known for her prolific involvement in a host of organizations and charities, Bobo, who was 78, may best be known for creating the prestigious Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards program, an annual invitation-only gala that celebrates hundreds of local residents for their selfless service to others through a variety of means.
In 1988, Bobo spoke with her friend Deen Day Smith Sanders, who co-founded the Days Inn motel chain with her husband and Brooklet native Cecil B. Day, about using her name for a public service honor that would be given to deserving people in Bulloch County. Sanders was at the time, and remains to this day, a well-known Georgia philanthropist.
“Patsy was a loyal friend to me,” Sanders said. “Her steadfast love of the Statesboro community and her years of service as a volunteer will be remembered.”
Bobo was definitely one of a kind. Straightforward and brutally honest, she had a flair for detail and flamboyance that made her unique. A “force to be reckoned with,” no one was ever known to be able to tell her “no” when she sought help with a charity or community endeavor.
“Statesboro and Bulloch County lost a great citizen with the passing Sunday of Patsy Bobo,” said longtime friend Joe McGlamery. “Patsy had many unique gifts — she was a big-picture person and a detail person. She had the ability to visualize what most of us couldn’t even imagine. I often called her the most irreplaceable person in our community, because she was in the middle of so many good and positive things in our community.”
A true leader, “she kept all of us in line,” said Bruce Yawn. “She loved Bulloch County and did everything she could to make it a better place. She was always in competition with herself, tried to outdo herself. She will be sadly missed by all her friends.”
Flair for design and detail
Bobo died Nov. 3 at Ogeechee Area Hospice in Statesboro. She was a graduate of Statesboro High School and attended the University of Georgia and later graduated from The New York School of Interior Design. Born in Tennessee, she had lived in Statesboro since moving here as an infant with her family.
Always active in local fundraisers, charity events and efforts to help the less fortunate, Bobo developed a reputation as a “go-getter” who never gave up until the job was done. While she had a hand in numerous galas, events and celebrations, her skills in organization, leadership, and glamorous but tasteful decoration was best exhibited through the exclusive Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards program, which centered around its namesake’s love for butterflies.
The butterfly motif was carried throughout the venues where the event was held — through pastel butterfly banners and lighted butterfly panels down to butterfly-shaped crackers, napkin rings, croissants, and a decadent dessert always served in a chocolate butterfly shell.
“She was always so detail-oriented, down to the shape of the salad wafers and color of sugar on the table,” said Kathy Spivey, who assisted Bobo for years in organizing the gala. “She always had the ability for visions of grandeur. Patsy was flamboyant and genuine, with a unique personality. She would tell you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear. She was compassionate, and loved to gild the lily.”
Bobo’s imagination and resourcefulness knew no limitations.
“Got an industrial development prospect coming to town and you need to stage a unique dinner with a Brazilian theme and authentic cuisine? Call Patsy Bobo,” McGlamery said. “Want to stage a 1-AA National Football Championship game in Paulson Stadium with a thrilling half-time show? Call Patsy Bobo. Want to launch a community service awards program to honor community volunteers? You won’t need to call Patsy Bobo because she will call you as she called me in 1988.”
That was the year the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards program began, and “over the next 31 years, we’ve honored almost 900 Bulloch citizens for their service to others,” he said.
Fun, dedicated, a treasure
Bobo’s vivacious joy for life and zest for going all out touched countless lives and created many friendships. She was a jokester, too, said Gerald Edenfield, recalling several occasions when Bobo “got one over” on him.
“She really believed in Statesboro and Bulloch County,” he said. “She was always at the forefront and did everything for Statesboro. A true friend, she has always been a booster, and believed in doing everything right.”
When Edenfield served as the “judge” who set bail for people “arrested” for a local fundraiser, Bobo sewed him a special robe made from purple Crown Royal bags, he said.
“She brought leadership to Statesboro. It saddens me to hear of her passing,” he said. “She was loved by many and always got everybody involved. It was never a one-man show with Patsy.”
“She was a general,” McGlamery said. “She could mobilize the human capital of the community, and with a bare-bones budget, she could pull off masterpieces. She loved people, and it showed. She loved Statesboro, and it showed. She was a great friend to many of us and we will surely miss her.”
Ellis Wood called Bobo a “tremendous asset to this community.” With a strong but friendly will, she “had a very convincing way to get things done properly and promptly.
“Her vision and leadership … has very appropriately honored many people from the community who have not sought but deserved recognition. I am thankful to her family for sharing her with us, and she will be sorely missed,” he said.
Delia Mobley shared fond memories of Bobo, including times she would go riding “in my convertible with the top down, Patsy in her pajamas, watching the sunset and eating Krystals.”
Bobo had friends of all ages and enjoyed life to its fullest, she said.
“She was always ready to go somewhere fun,” Mobley said. “Patsy had a way of turning the mundane into something spectacular. She had a giving heart, and if she saw a need, she was going to make sure it was met, with no expectation of recognition. “
“Statesboro and Bulloch County lost a giant,” Edenfield said. “I don’t think anybody is going to be able to fill her shoes.”
What Bobo did for so many is immeasurable, Mobley said.
“I don’t think any of us will ever be able to grasp what all she did. We will always remember the things she taught us — we learned so much from her.”
Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church Statesboro with Dr. H. William Perry and Dr. John Waters officiating. The body will lie in state one hour prior to the service.
Interment will be in Eastside Cemetery.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.