Neptune Beach community honors its first black lifeguard

Nearly 100 honored Larry Hobbs with swim out, lifeguard chair dedication


NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Larry Hobbs died from bladder cancer June 8 and the beach community memorialized him at the Neptune Beach Lifeguard station. Hobbs made history 30 years ago, when he became the first black lifeguard in Neptune Beach and while he may be gone, his legacy will live on.

A lifeguard chair is now dedicated to Hobbs and a  swim out was held in his honor. It's a tradition where surfers swim out beyond the wave and make a circle of love with flowers, which was followed by kind words being said about Hobbs.


About 100 people participated, including Hobbs' best friend, Chris Wooten.

"He became my brother instantly. That was 37 years ago. I have five children and he's been their uncle and with us every vacation and Christmas," Wooten said.

Wooten said Hobbs was known for his smile and strength.

"He had so much, that smile just lit up the whole beach. It was incredible, he was an incredible human being, larger than life. You can't fill that void. He loved his community, he didn't see color. Color was nothing to him. He was a gentle soul," Wooten said.

Another friend, Cathy Marcum, said Hobbs fought cancer during the last five years of his life, but kept a good attitude.

"He fought like a warrior, just three or four weeks before passing, he said he couldn't wait to get back into the gym. He fought until the very last day. He was a warrior," Marcum said.

And he was a warrior, according to his friends, who will never be forgotten. 

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