I have never requested that anything written by me be published in the Letters to the Editor section of your paper. At this time, I am, however, asking that you publish what is provided below as it relates to former Covington Mayor Bill Dobbs, the mayor and the man. My only regret is that I did not make this request while he was still living. Somehow though, I do believe that he knows and would appreciate what I have stated below regarding our relationship that would ultimately grow in to a great friendship.
Another dear friend of mine and our former sheriff, Joe Nichols, once said to me: “When we reach the end of our life, if we have enough true friends to equal the number of fingers we have on one hand, we should consider ourselves wealthy.”
Joe was surely right, and that being the case, Bill Dobbs was wealthy beyond measure when you consider all the friends he had, including those that gathered at the hospital over the several days prior to his passing, the multitude that attended his funeral and all those who have commented in the papers about him and his life.
Mayor Dobbs as I have and always will call him was already more than 50 years old when I went to work for the City of Covington more than three and a half decades ago and even then, he was certainly wise beyond years. At that time, new police officers were sworn in by the ayor at his place of business, not in a city council meeting and aired on community television like it is done these days. In my case, it was in Mayor Dobbs/Dr. Dobbs optometrist office, which was located on the northside of the Square.
Nonetheless, the swearing in was just as official as the publicly held events. I remember the day well. My captain at the time drove me to see the mayor for the swearing in.
Mayor Dobbs told me how much he appreciated my choosing to work for the Covington Police Department, he ecouraged me to do my best and he assured me that he was there to help if I ever needed him.
After the swearing in, and as I was about to walk out of his office, he stopped and asked me: “What do you see yourself doing with the City in five years?”
I thought about, but not for very long, and replied “Mayor, I’m just twenty-two years old, I’m not real sure what I’ll be doing in two weeks”. He made no response; he grinned a little with that half smile he was so famous for but never said a word.
Years later, when I would recall the incident, I would often ponder what he thought of my answer. because as I’ve gotten older, the more immature and less philosophical my response has become to me.
But, if he ever thought of it again, he never mentioned to me and we have shared many conversations over the years, every one ending with how grateful he was that I came to work for the city and how much he appreciated me, and he always ended by asking about my wife, Mary.
Beyond his wisdom and all the great things that he accomplished in his personal life and professionally on behalf of the City of Covington and Newton County, Mayor Dobbs was an true encourager. He was so in the purest and most important sense, from the heart.
He never said good things to you or about you just to make you feel good; he truly cared about you.
I always knew what I meant to him and he knew what he meant to me. We had what I call a “day or night relationship,” which, simply put, means we knew we could call on one another day or night with any issue.
Now a lot of people will say that they have similar relationships with other people, but how many can you really count on to mean it. If you were a friend of Bill Dobbs, he meant it and you could count on it. You could “take it to the bank” as some folks would say.
The only time that I ever felt like I had let Mayor Dobbs down was at my recent retirement reception from the City of Covington after I had elected to step down due to some health issues and at the urging of my family and friends.
That night, Mayor Dobbs said to me, I always thought that you would stay for as long as we needed you. Now, he understood the health issues. It was just his sincere way of saying that he wished I could have avoided the retirement issue and that I would have been able to keep on working.
Little did I know that night that soon and very soon I would, again, recall those words he spoke to me, but in this case it would apply to him.
For you see, on Sunday May 4th, 2014, Mayor Dobbs had to answer a higher call. The one that God will, one day, place on all of us. And on that day, he had to leave for an even better place, but we still needed him. We will always need and miss him.
Farewell Mayor Dobbs.
Former city manager