John Hoberg #1302, retired Seattle police officer, passed away on Monday, August 16th at the age of 96. John was hired on the department on January 2, 1952 and retired after twenty-eight years of service on October 8, 1980.
ohn was born in Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood. Both his parents were immigrants from Scandinavia who came here to escape the carnage of World War One. When World War Two broke out, John’s father was concerned that Ballard could be bombed so he moved the family onto a 2,000-acre farm in Carnation. John attended Tolt High where he played football. Upon graduation at the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1943. He fought in the South Pacific Theater earning three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, the Navy Cross and the Meritorious Service Medal.
After discharge he enrolled in the U of W and played on the football team. During his spare time, he hung around Golden Gardens racing his old souped-up car. He got several tickets for racing which caused him to decide if you can’t beat them, join them. Thus, on January 2, 1952, he became a Provisional Patrolman. Three months later he became a regular making $290 per month. He attended Academy Class #26 during the spring of 1952. After two years in patrol, he was assigned to the detectives. While in investigations, Ray Carroll #1230 and John joined the Army Reserves.
On June 4, 1956, he married Bette. In 1957, John transferred to “H & R”. With his distinguished war service, John was quickly going up the ranks in the Reserves which required frequent military leaves that interrupted the Department’s investigative personnel scheduling, not to mention his life as a newlywed. So, in 1959, he was assigned as one of the mayor’s drivers. This assignment lasted until 1967 when he returned to Patrol for five years. In 1972, while on a call, he fractured his right ankle. This resulted in Chief Bob Hanson #899, transferring John to a new position the Department initiated – Officer Friendly. His job was to make presentations at elementary, junior high and high schools. He was a frequent guest on the J.P. Patches television program.
In 1974, he broke his other ankle while visiting a school. This started degenerative arthritis in both ankles and his old war wounds did not help. But John continued to work and command the Army Reserve CID Unit at Fort Lawton. In fact, he was the first Reserve Major to attend the Army’s Command and General War College. He made full Colonel and appeared that he was on the path to make General. Many of the Department’s officers and commanders served under John. But unfortunately, tragedy struck on September 23, 1979. His 17-year-old son John Joseph was a passenger in a car when a drunk driver failed to make a turn that resulted in John Joseph’s death. This caused Bette to suffer deep depression. John rose to the occasion. His first duty was to his wife, so he retired from both the Department and the Army to take care of her. He had been with the Department almost 29 years and with the Army for almost 25 years.
From 1980 to August 20, 2005, Bette and John traveled together and spent their winter months in Palm Springs. There they met Frank Sinatra. John became the relief bodyguard in Frank’s security so the regular crew could vacation while John and Bette were wintering in Palm Springs.
After Bette passed away in 2005, John sold the family home off of 123rd and Greenwood Avenue to move to Texas six months every year to be with his daughter Carol. He spent the other six months in Woodway just north of Richmond Beach. He was the rock of his family during his 41 years of retirement.
John was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Bette, and his son John Joseph. He is survived by his daughter Carol, two granddaughters Shannon and Andrea and three great granddaughters Kayia, Kaitlyn and Kinsley.