By Tammy Moore Teague
He’s there every morning without fail. Rain or shine, Al Dobbs makes the short journey to the school from his home. He suits up with his safety vest and takes his place at the crosswalk at school. Dobbs, 83, has been doing this since 2015 and has become a mainstay for the Hackett School District.
Born in Atchison, Kansas, Dobbs spent most of his life mining for uranium. He relocated across six different states throughout a span of 27 years. As he neared retirement, Dobbs and his wife of 65 years, Shirley “Cheryl” Dobbs, moved to Arkansas. “My wife’s brother, and her mom and dad lived here, so that’s what brought us to Arkansas,” stated Dobbs. The couple have six children, Leroy, Mike, Susan, Robin, Lonnie and Curt. Additionally, they have 18 grandkids, 43 great grandkids and one great-great grandchild.
He wasn’t ready to retire just yet, however. Dobbs worked 10 years as a custodian for Kimmons Junior High in Fort Smith and tried once again to retire. It just wasn’t to be, as he found himself, again, working as a custodian. This time he went to work for Raymond Orr Elementary in Fort Smith. Even now, he refuses to stop working and looks for ways to be of service to the community. One of those ways is by serving as a crosswalk attendant for the school.
*Photo by Darrell Spells
“Eddie Ray was principal then and we go to church together. He asked me if I would do this. I had to think about it at first, but I am glad I did.” Through the years, Dobbs has come to know the faces, and some of the names. Parents and faculty at the school often inquire if he will return the following year. His reply is always the same, “I don’t know if the Lord will give me that, but I’ll take one day at a time.”
He proudly displays an album of appreciation from the children he is so dedicated to protect. “The first through sixth graders made me an album,” he explained. “Its full of thanks and they all signed it.” This book is nestled on a shelf in his living room, alongside other family photos and treasures.
His selfless volunteerism to the school isn’t the only way in which he serves. Dobbs is quite active in church. He serves as the head usher, on the building and grounds and personnel committees at Hackett First Baptist Church. He starts his day early on Sunday to pick up doughnuts and make coffee for Sunday morning fellowship. Additionally, he helps set up and serve the kids at Wednesday night’s AWANA and assists the pastor in visitations.
In his “off” time, Dobbs maintains his mowing equipment and tends his yard and beloved garden. He is in remarkable health, admitting that he stays active by lifting 50 pound weights and riding a stationary bike. He does sport scars of the past. “I have a steel plate in my right arm and I broke my femur. Both of those injuries happened in a cave in at the mine.”
His life is a demonstration of the love and service to others through Christ. Dobbs concluded that “outside of God, my wife is the biggest part of my life.” We are honored to feature Dobbs in this month’s Hometown Highlight, ordinary people doing extraordinary things! If you have a nomination for Hometown Highlight, you can email it to us!
Had the privilege of working with Mr. Dobbs at Orr Elementary. He is an amazing man.