John Robert Dobbs

Posted: May 21, 2008 in Family and Friends

John and John Robert

I had lunch with John Dobbs every Thursday for five years. We talked about everything (and everyone!) over those lunches, and he was my spiritual director. I count myself blessed to have received such valuable counseling, and for free!

I learned that his family was eerily similar to mine, both of us having married impressive women who had been raising a daughter on their own years before we entered the picture – Maggie and Nicole for John, and Jody and Erica for me. We both added a child to the mix along the way, too – John Robert for my friend, and my own Hillary. Since John had a ten year head start on me in this unique family way, I frisked him for advice on a weekly basis.

Katrina came and struck a fatal blow to our weekly lunches, and if you’ll pardon my Cajun French, I’m still pretty pissed about that. But we moved on to what seemed to be more pressing matters, rebuilding our lives and communities and whatnot.

But when I decided to give up the preaching profession for law school, I had to find my spiritual director and tell him my big news. He knew me probably better than anyone else around, and he supported my crazy decision as a real friend would.

Imagine my surprise when John beat me to the punch and accepted a job preaching at the Forsythe Avenue Church of Christ in Monroe, Louisiana, before I could even get out of town!!! Yet I was happy for my friend. It was the right time to make the move, and he was welcomed by Forsythe with open arms.

Since the move came quickly, some things had to be rearranged quickly, like living arrangements for instance. John moved into a townhome in Monroe for part of the week, while Maggie and John Robert stayed behind in Pascagoula to try to sell the house and for John Robert to graduate high school. John had been driving back and forth.

Though the graduation ceremony is scheduled for this Friday night, John Robert won’t get to participate. He died this morning in a tragic accident on Interstate 10 near the Mississippi / Alabama line.

I was backing out of the garage this morning just after 7am when my cell phone rang. I looked on the Caller ID and saw “dobbs” on the screen. I answered with a cheery “Good Morning!” and soon realized that there was nothing good about this morning. Through sobs, John said he had horrible news, news that his son had been killed.

I spent the morning at John and Margaret’s, and the afternoon fielding phone calls and reading the news sites on the internet. And though there are still so many unanswered questions, it appears that John Robert borrowed a friend’s truck late last night since his was about out of gas. His friend lived in the middle of nowhere, and somewhere along the way John Robert got his friend’s truck stuck in the mud. He called his friends and tried to tell him his location, and though they went looking for him they couldn’t find him. They assumed he got un-stuck or that someone else helped him out before they arrived. Instead, it seems that he lost cell phone reception and began walking through the early morning darkness. Around midnight, police reports say that he was walking on Interstate 10 when he was struck by an 18-wheeler, killing him instantly.

John and Margaret began calling and texting him around the time he was killed. They tried to contact him all night long. Margaret went searching around 1am, and John around 4am. While John was out looking for his son the police arrived and told Margaret the awful news.

I cannot begin to imagine.

John Dobbs is the King of the Internet. He has introduced half the world to blogging, and it is only appropriate that someone post this tragic news on a blog. For lack of a better place, I guess it will be mine. John’s personal blog is titled, “Out Here Hope Remains.” My prayer is that his title will remain appropriate after enduring the first wave of nauseating emotive darkness that has descended on this sweet unsuspecting family.

You can leave comments on his blog HERE with scads of other people. More than that, however, I ask that you “hope” for the Dobbs family until they are strong enough to maybe hope all by themselves. Because he’s right: in the end, hope is all we’ve got.

God bless you, John Robert Dobbs, kind and fun, talented and courteous, quiet and ambitious, and the maker of many friends. May you rest in peace, and may you live with Jesus.

  1. alsturgeon says:

    For those who would like to sign a guestbook through the funeral home, go to

    Arrangements will appear there once confirmed, too.

  2. rossblog says:


    Thank you for your post. I think it is entirely appropriate, as you say, to post this tragic news on a blog given that JD is the king of the Internet. It’s cliche to say it, but my heart breaks for John and Maggie at this time. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through.

    — Bobby

  3. J D says:

    Thank you Al. Your quiet presence today was a giant source of strength.

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