Growing up, saying “Mr. Dobie will get you” was kind of like threatening to send the Boogey Man. Okay, well, not to me, but for some reason, my guy friends were terrified of my father. Last Christmas, Jake and my little brother road-tripped up to Ohio from South Carolina. On the way up, they stopped to visit one of Matt’s buddies. That buddy (who will remain nameless, for his safety’s sake) said to Jake, “Have you met Mr. Dobie yet?” Jake replied that he hadn’t but that he soon would, to which Matt’s buddy said, “Watch out, man. He’s scary.”
Why this unnecessary terror of my father? Maybe because he was a parole officer. Maybe because he is into martial arts (and yeah, he does look kind of like Chuck Norris). Maybe, though—and more likely—it’s because he’s quiet. He doesn’t say much. In conversation, he’s likely to just kinda watch you and listen to you talk, unless he has something specific to add. I believe it was this silence that managed to harass my guy friends growing up.
It is also Dad’s silence that inspired me to interview him on my blog. I realized, months ago, that although I knew a lot about my father, I didn’t know some of the basics: who inspires him, what does he think about the institution of marriage, etc, etc? I needed to know this stuff, so I made him do an interview. He didn’t type his answers. He hand wrote them, on fifteen pages of tri-folded, lined paper. His interview, out of necessity, will be broken into two portions—one today, and one on Wednesday. I hope you enjoy this. I damn sure did.
A word of warning: my father is not politically correct. He says what he thinks—something I also strive to do in my daily life. You might leave offended, but trust me: it’s good for you.
Presenting, with pride:
An H and Five Ws with MY DAD, Dave Dobie
Dave Dobie Basic Bio:
1966–1970: BA Degree in Psychology from Miami University of Ohio
1971–2002: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections
2002–Present: Retired, slippers-wearing, paper-reading retired guy
Another interesting tidbit: “In the first grade, I went to a one room school house. There were a total of eight grades in the school with only one teacher. There were only three kids in my grade. (Does anyone remember Little House on the Prairie?)”
How did you feel about your job as a parole officer? Honestly.
First of all, I started my career as a staff psychologist at a prison in Southern Ohio. My primary duty was to evaluate the risk of releasing inmates back into the community. Those evaluations were completed for the parole board’s use. Twenty-five years later, I used those same reports to assist me in making my determinations on release.
After about one year of institutional work, I transferred to field services where I worked as a parole officer in the inner city of Toledo. I held that assignment for about fourteen years before being promoted to unit supervisor. Ten years later, I transferred to the parole board. All told, I spent the better part of thirty-one years working in the criminal justice system.
In general, it was a very difficult and demanding job on all levels. The decisions I had to make on a daily basis affected the lives of so many people: parolees/inmates and their families, victims and their families, and future victims if my decisions were wrong. It was a daunting task and not to be taken lightly. Overall, however, it was very rewarding, and I truly believe I made a difference.
I never had much sympathy for parolees/inmates with their troubled backgrounds. What I was more concerned about was their adult decision making, the choices they made, and their victimization of the innocent. Regardless of your background, we all know right from wrong, and when you choose to do wrong, you must be held accountable. I didn’t care that they were beaten as a child. They are now the child-beaters, and they need to suffer the consequences. I have no appreciation for bleeding-heart liberals who are more concerned about the rights of inmates rather than the rights of the innocent people they victimized.
If you ever talked with a victim of a brutal sex assault or family member whose loved one was senselessly murdered, you would want to alleviate their intense pain and devastation as best you could and, at the same time, make sure that other families or individuals would not have to suffer those same tragedies in the future. I believe I aided in this cause and helped to keep society a bit safer. I take great satisfaction in that. As Beretta—a TV cop—once said, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Enough said.
Who has been your biggest influence in life?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for this. I never had any teacher, professor, or mentor that I could specifically point to that greatly influenced me. Obviously, many people have influenced me over the years, but it is difficult to determine in just what way that happened. Let me try to answer the question in another way and speak to you about the historical figures I greatly admire.
As a young boy, I was fascinated by Abraham Lincoln and read several books about him. To this day, I hold him in awe. He was a man who was predominantly self-taught, suffered great personal tragedies, and experienced chronic depression, and yet he overcame those obstacles and persevered to lead our nation through its most difficult period. His integrity, honesty, and strength of character are all to be greatly admired—and things we should emulate—to me, the photographic portraits of Lincoln are some of the greatest photographs ever taken.
I grew up in the Lutheran church. As a result, I was taught a lot about Martin Luther. As I grew older, I read more about him and found him to be an amazing character. I believe him to be one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He took on the Catholic Church at great personal peril and is primarily responsible for all the protestant churches in existence today. He challenged the Catholic Church and was threatened with death if he persisted, but persist he did. He believed you could learn more about God and scripture through divine revelation than you could through church leaders or counsels. I believe this also. Luther was a man of great faith and was willing to die for that faith, and yet, he was oftentimes wracked with serious doubt. Was his faith justified? Was his God real? He struggled with these questions throughout most of his life, but his faith ultimately prevailed. If a man of Luther’s stature and intellect can have such doubts, then I can be less critical of myself in my own spiritual struggles. Luther was an extremely complicated man and certainly flawed, but there is much to admire and emulate.
Ever since I was a boy, I loved American Indians, and my interest hasn’t waned over the years. I have been especially drawn to Crazy Horse. In some ways, I view him as a kindred spirit. He was an exceptionally shy and introverted man who kept to himself. He usually camped at the outskirts of the village where he could be alone. When he walked through the village, he would keep his head down and rarely make eye contact. During council meetings, he would sit in the shadows and if he spoke, he would do so very quietly, but when he spoke, people listened as his opinion was highly regarded. He was a true non-conformist who didn’t follow the traditional Indian customs. He was his own man and did life his way. He was very modest and kept nothing for himself, sharing his possessions with the elderly and less fortunate. He was small in stature but a fierce warrior. His exploits in the battle field became legendary. His mere presence—just seeing him in the fight—rallied the other braves to fight harder. He soon even became their war chief. Quite a contrast. In the village he would be withdrawn and quiet and unnoticed. But in the battle field, he was larger than life and always out front where the fighting was the heaviest. He was not a natural leader. He led not by choice but because his people needed him. He refused to compromise with the American government and fought to defend and keep the Indian way of life. He was willing to sacrifice all for his people, and he eventually did. He was a loner who set aside personal preference to protect and lead his people.
All three of these men led remarkable lives. All showed great courage in the face of extreme adversity. Not only were they all inspirational during their lifetimes, but they continue to inspire me this very day.
End of Part 1, An H and Five Ws with MY DAD, Dave Dobie. Part II is coming your way Wednesday. A preview: Wanna see my dad get fiery hot? Just ask him about American politicians …