“You ain’t going through this life but one time!” Troy Dobbs, 91-year-old New Hope native and Bostwick resident, will tell you without hesitation. “You don’t get nowhere by lying; you tell the truth, and you’ll come out on top.”
And so he has. Mayor John Bostwick and the City Council of Bostwick recently named a local trail after Dobbs for his lifetime of service and commitment to the community, whether reading water meters or serving on the city council from 1964-2014.
Dobbs recalled, “I was on the city council when we got the first firetruck, built the fire station, and bought the hotel. The best thing was when we took over the hotel and made City Hall out of it. At the Cotton Gin Festival, the doctor in Bostwick got to talking with me. I told him how I wanted the city to buy the hotel but it didn’t have the money. That doctor loaned us the money without interest.”
Dobbs was born in 1927, one of 10 children – one of whom died as a child. His mother died when he was six, so he and his siblings were raised by his father, a local sharecropper. He grew up during the Great Depression and had to drop out of school in the seventh grade to work a mule plowing fields six days a week from sun-up to sun-down. With only Highway 278 and 441 paved, trips to neighboring towns to grind wheat and corn would take an entire day with a cart and mule on the unpaved roads.
“I’ve been to the Baptist church when more wagons and mules were outside than cars. I was here before they got electricity in ‘36 to run from Monroe to Apalachee by setting the poles with two big old horses that pulled the poles and stretched out the wire. My sister used to have to do wash by going down to the creek to get water and carry it back up to be heated.”
“I’ve enjoyed life and travelled around the country when I was 18. I got to see a lot of the world when I was young,” noted Dobbs who served in the U.S. army in World War II along with four of his brothers, including his twin. “When I left, my daddy told me, ‘Remember one thing, you are number one, and you take care of number one first.”
One brother served in the South Pacific while the other four were stationed in Europe. Based in Germany, Dobbs was granted leave to visit his twin brother, Roy – younger than Dobbs by 30 minutes – who was based in England and took his first train trip across new terrain. Remarkably, all five boys returned home safely.
Dobbs is the only one of his siblings still living. He has also outlived his wife of 67 years, Covington local Helen Juanita Wallace, who died two years ago.
“My wife and I had many happy years together. She went everywhere with me,” Dobbs reminisced. “It’s hard losing someone you love.”
Donna Flo, Dobbs’ daughter, recollected with a laugh, “I was in grade school before I knew momma’s name was Juanita, because everyone always knew her as ‘Ouida’.”
While working as a quality control operator for a furniture company, Dobbs hired his wife, who worked in the sewing room, only after striking an agreement that she wouldn’t criticize him in front of his employees. She not only agreed but also never said a word about work at home either. Dobbs, on the other hand, never questioned food placed before him and was appreciative of her domain at home.
Dobb’s was well-respected by his employers at the furniture company. When he had to reject an entire shipment of products, his boss reportedly said, “That’s why we hired him—he’s unafraid to speak up.”
That intrepid ability to demand a better quality of product undoubtedly guided his 50-year service on the city council and is one of the reasons current council members wanted to thank him with the naming of Troy’s Trail.
“They sprung it on him,” explained Donna Flo. “They invited us out and didn’t tell him what they had planned.”
“I thank the mayor and council for thinking about me and doing what they done,” Dobbs said. “I really appreciate it. I know I’ve done a lot for Bostwick, but the mayor and council now have it in better shape than when I left. John Bostwick is the best mayor we have ever had. He goes all out and gives us all he’s got.”
Dobbs walks Troy’s Trail nearly every day and completes four laps of the quarter mile trail with his walker. Ouida’s name appears along the trail; her husband wouldn’t have it otherwise.
“I’ve had a good life, and I’m still going. I leave it all up to the good Lord.”