Robert Dobson

2012-07-06T10:00:00Z Robert Dobson Fremont Tribune
July 06, 2012 10:00 am

Robert D. “Bob” Dobson, 88, of Fremont, formerly of Arlington, died peacefully Thursday, June 28, 2012, at Nye Legacy in Fremont.

Mr. Dobson was born in Fremont on Sept. 3, 1923, the eldest of six children of Robert E. Dobson of Omaha and Evelyn Pearson of Fremont. Bob spent many of his Depression-era boyhood summers in Fremont but grew up in the Benson area of Omaha and was elected president of his Benson High School senior class. At Iowa State College he had his studies interrupted by World War II. He served with the U.S. Army, helping to build oil tanks, pipelines and other critical installations with the 535th Engineer Drum Plant Company in the Philippines and on Okinawa. Back at Iowa State as a chemical engineering major, Mr. Dobson met Mary Louise Battles, a home economics major from Coleraine, Minn. They were married June 26, 1948.

Upon graduation he was offered a job with Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, where their son and three daughters were eventually born. Mr. Dobson quickly proved to be an invaluable young engineer at P&G, working on research and development in the foods division on products soon to be famous, including Crisco, Jiff peanut butter, Duncan Hines cake mixes and Pringles potato chips. He obtained many patents in his name.

Mr. Dobson and his wife Mary Lou were quite active in community affairs in Greenhills, Ohio. He taught Sunday school and helped lead many Boy Scout and Girl Scout hikes and campouts, including hiking the Appalachian Trail and canoeing in Canada and northern Minnesota. The family also pursued many camping, canoeing and sailing adventures all over the country. Mr. Dobson was elected for several terms to town council of Greenhills and ultimately became council president. He also sailed Snipe and Laser sailboats and raced homing pigeons for many years. In addition, he and his family hosted many international students, including their Brazilian “son,” AFS exchange student Wagner de Goes Horta, who lived with the family for a year.

Mr. Dobson took early retirement and returned to Nebraska to care for his parents and to build the dream house that he and his wife designed and created together outside of Arlington overlooking the Elkhorn River with a view all the way to Fremont. The house became renowned for its innovative earth-sheltered solar design that was 30 years ahead of its time. Mr. Dobson also received his professional engineer’s license and worked on several contract projects, including supervising the construction of a large building near the Omaha airport.

Mr. Dobson sang with the P&G chorus in Cincinnati, and upon his return to Nebraska he began an involvement of many years with the prize-winning Pathfinders Barbershop Chorus, with whom he and his wife traveled to Russia on tour and to many barbershop contests and concerts throughout the Midwest. The Dobsons were also founding participants in the historic recreations at Fort Atkinson, the early 19th-century fort in Fort Calhoun, where they spent many weekends as volunteers, he portraying a top-hatted surveyor and she a spinner and weaver.

In 2009, Mr. Dobson came full circle when he moved with his wife to Nye Senior Services, only a few blocks from the house where he was born.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Lou Dobson; a sister, Dona Williams of Cocoa, Fla.; a brother, David Dobson of Titusville, Fla.; children, Rob Dobson of Bedford, Mass., Deborah Dobson of Tucson, Ariz., Becky Dobson of St. Paul, Minn., and Martha Gamm of Dakota Dunes, S.D.; granddaughters, Emily and Alison Gamm, as well as Brian Magee, Nora Simmons, Barb Chapman and Darwin Gamm.

He was predeceased in death by sister Nadine Dobson, brother Theodore Dobson, and only recently by sister Thyra Gibson.

A remembrance gathering will be held at 3 p.m. July 22 at Nye Square, Multipurpose Room B, 655 W. 23rd St., in Fremont.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Dobson’s name may be made to The Fort Atkinson Foundation at, or to The Pathfinder Chorus at

To express condolences, send e-mails to, or mail to The Dobsons, 391 Davis Road, Bedford, MA 01730.

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