Bob Hoig

Bob Hoig of Omaha never feared something new, whether teaching himself the saxophone at 40, taking up skiing at 60 or learning to fly at 70.

So despite friends’ warnings that his idea for a weekly business-news publication would fail, he gave it a shot — and almost 44 years later, the weekly Midlands Business Journal continues in operation.

Hoig enjoyed a reputation as a champion of small businesses.

“My dad was passionate about small businesses,” said Andrea “Andee” Hoig. “He touched so many people in the business community and was the true epitome of entrepreneurship — you go for it, and you just keep going for it.”

Robert Gregg Hoig, who survived a critical illness at 2 that cost him a kidney but then lived an active life of swimming, skiing and tennis, died Monday night in hospice care from complications of the flu and pneumonia. He was 86.

Named entrepreneur of the year in 2004 by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame in 2012, Hoig had started out modestly — born in the Great Depression in 1932 and raised by grandparents in rural Kansas.

At 16, he hitchhiked across the country with a friend on Route 66 and later graduated from high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska.

In 1957, he walked into the office of the New York Daily News and got a job as a copy boy, his entry into journalism.

He later wrote for the Lincoln Journal, the Miami Daily News and United Press International before joining The World-Herald in 1969, covering crime and corruption. He also wrote of lax security procedures for sex offenders at the then-Nebraska State Hospital in Lincoln, which led to changes in state law.

In 1972, he became editor of the Douglas County Gazette, and in 1975, he founded the Midlands Business Journal.

He also started other publications, including the Lincoln Business Journal. And in 1996, he sold the magazine Metro to daughter Andee, who still publishes it every other month, covering Omaha philanthropic, cultural and nonprofit activities.

“I kind of caught the bug from him,” she said. “I learned so much about the publishing business indirectly from him.”

Bob Hoig quit drinking and smoking decades ago, and he stayed fit through middle age with daily swimming. He played competitive tennis, winning local championships, and attended the U.S. Open in New York.

He often took his racket with him on trips to Europe, finding friendly games in Munich, London and elsewhere. He quipped that opponents wearied of playing against a man “who traveled with his racket.”

After becoming a pilot, he bought a Cessna 182 and flew until he was 80. He stayed active with the Midlands Business Journal, said Andee, now its vice president of operations.

Besides his daughter, survivors include his wife, Martha; sons Dr. Oliver Hoig of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Noel Hoig of Omaha; stepson Jim Pearson of Houston; stepdaughter Amy Chittenden of Omaha; and former wife Mary Lou Hoig of Estes Park, Colorado.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at Countryside Community Church.

Known as a risk-taker, Bob Hoig told Kara Schweiss of Metro magazine last year that the characteristic dated back many years.

“I had plenty of derring-do about me — chutzpah,” he said. “I’d try anything.”

Notable Omaha-area deaths of 2018

A look back at some of those from the Omaha area who died in 2018.

  • 0

North Omaha cattleman and entrepreneur Herbert C. Rhodes lived a singular life of self-determination, from defeating racial segregation at the Peony Park swimming pool in 1963 and running the half-mile for Omaha University to leading the City of Omaha Human Relations Board and using skills from a long corporate career to create private success.

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Kira Gale was widely known in Nebraska arts and historical circles, most recently for researching and writing about her theory that Meriwether Lewis was assassinated. 

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Smith served as interim chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the early 1980s, when he defended workplace sexual harassment protections against forceful political attack. He later became the dean of Howard University’s law school and authored a seminal book on the history of black lawyers in America.

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“She’s been an amazing advocate for children,” said Benjamin Gray, a review specialist with the Nebraska Foster Care Review Office. “Rosemary helped me to always maintain a perspective of aspiration — to continue to question whether what we were being told was the best the system could do.”

To plant a tree in memory of Bob Hoig as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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