A Celebration of Life

Posted: May 23, 2008 in Family and Friends

Thank you for your prayers for the Dobbs family. Please don’t stop. The road ahead is long.

The funeral today was touching. When I left the fellowship room at the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, John was talking to family and friends. When I made it home and got online, I noticed he had already sent a Twitter update which simply stated, “There were a HUGE number of people from all over at the funeral… the services were PERFECT… John Robert would have loved it.”

Even in the midst of a personal nightmare, John’s blogging abilities never fail to impress.

For those of you who ached to be there today, allow me to share these special moments with you.

I had the privilege of welcoming everyone and introducing Bill Collins, who led us in beautiful congregational singing. I will never forget sitting on the stage and seeing John over the edge of his son’s casket trying to sing “Lord, Reign In Me” – Lord, reign in me, reign in your power, over all my dreams, in my darkest hour…

The Dobbs’ longtime friend, Danny Dodd, spoke next. Danny is so strong, and yet he cried so easily today.

My youth minister, Trent Bryant, read the ever-appropriate 23rd Psalm next, followed by Chris Lockhart, who told John Robert’s “story” to complete maturity.

Les Ferguson, John’s roommate from teenage years long past, worded a touching prayer next, and did an admirable job of fighting back his tender emotions.

John Robert’s old hero, Joel Jordan, took the stage next with his guitar and harmonica and took hold of our hearts with an unbelievably touching song. Simply perfect, and completely unforgettable.

Mike Price then read a beautiful passage from the Psalms, followed by Jeff Frank who made us laugh and cry with his brief memorial.

Dusty Rush then took the stage and made it seem as if we were in John and Margaret’s living room. He abandoned the impressive pulpit, stood in front of John and Margaret, took their hands, and spoke and prayed from his heart.

Three young men from Pascagoula High School, a band called “The Fillmore,” then performed a touching rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” on piano and guitar. There’s a better home a-waitin’ in the sky, Lord, in the sky…

And then Craig Hicks took the stage and all attempts at not crying were abandoned. Craig imagined John Robert on his fateful journey, lost, tired, preparing for a lecture, and simply trying to find his way home. And then, in an instant, he was home. Just not the home where we wanted him. In Craig’s natural way, he told hilarious stories of times with John Robert, gave credit to John Robert for saving him during a dark time of his life, and then told us the strangest thing about death: that it isn’t real. That John Robert is still with us, and always will be.

I had to follow Craig and dismiss the service, which I tried to do as best I could. The most appropriate passage I could think to read was from Isaiah, which says, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

After the service, the pall bearers marched solemnly to the back to await the casket. The family followed behind, followed by hundreds and hundreds of friends.

I wish you all could have been there, and I know you do, too. But in a sense, you all were. It has felt like the whole world is mourning with the Dobbs family, and I pray that that helps somehow.

  1. wjcsydney says:

    Al, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    I am privileged to be part of the outpouring of love for John and Maggy from far away in Australia. It’s a glorious glimpse of how heaven will be but then we will love without the tears or the pain.

    I can’t wait.

  2. craig hicks says:


    I so enjoyed our conversation at lunch. John is lucky to have you in his life. Your humility and calming presence made the funeral what it was. Lord be with you in you’re impending transition. I’m positive that the Lord will use your new career to open amazing doors.

  3. alsturgeon says:

    Thank you, Wendy. I was at John’s house again Thursday morning (the day after), and I told him about the flood of posts and comments from everywhere on the internet, and I mentioned a sweet post all the way from Australia. He named your name immediately and smiled. Thank you for providing him that smile.

    And thank you, Craig. I enjoyed our conversation more than you did. And I’m sure John had you listed as the last speaker yesterday cuz he had an innate sense that you would say the words John Robert would have loved – and you did. When I went to bed last night, I quoted part of your prayer to my wife, “And Jesus, do NOT play Monopoly or Sequence with John Robert cuz you will LOSE.” Your authenticity is a refreshing breeze, and John Robert saw that most clearly.

  4. J D says:

    Thank you Al… you provided the necessary leadership to bring this all together. And forever I will remember the holiness of the hour … and the closeness of Jesus … and the warmth of my friends and family.

  5. alsturgeon says:

    Thank you, John. I cannot say anything I was able to do was a pleasure, but I count it a distinct honor – more than I could ever express.

    I had an inspirational conversation with Jason at your house Thursday morning, followed by a priceless conversation with Craig at lunch on Friday, and I sit and think, In John’s nightmare, he is blessing me with his wonderful friends.

    I think of the line from the old song, “he blesses and blesses again” – just a confirmation that Jesus lives through your life.

  6. dusty rush says:

    Al, it was great to see you again. You did a perfect job of humbly guiding us through a most difficult hour. I can see why John loves you so much.

  7. alsturgeon says:

    Thanks, Dusty. It was great to see you. I would’ve enjoyed spending some time with you, but there were just too many conversations to be had for everyone to spend time with everyone. Besides, we were all there to spend time most especially with two people anyway.

    Your words were so wonderful, too. Unprepared, they say, yet perfect.

    Take care, and Go Cards.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s