Harold J. Dobbs, 1910-2001

Harold Joseph Dobbs, contractor & community leader

LIBERTY CORNER -- Harold J. Dobbs, 90, died Tuesday, April 24 at Fellowship Village in Liberty Corner. Born in Bernardsville, he lived in the Somerset Hills all his life. Mr. Dobbs was a building contractor in Bernardsville from 1933 to 1975, carrying on the business that his father, Joseph Dobbs, had begun in 1909.

Harold was an active member of the Bedminster and Pottersville Reformed Churches for more than 50 years, where he sang in the choir and served on a number of committees, as well as being a Deacon and an Elder. From 1958 to 1964 he served on the Reformed Church in America Board of Foreign Missions.

Mr. Dobbs graduated from Bernards High School in 1928, the Peddie School in 1929 and Wharton Business School in 1933. He worked for Jos. Dobbs Builders from 1933 until 1939, when he moved to Wigton-Abbott Corp. and served senior managerial roles in the construction of Ft. Monmouth ('39-40) and the Bayonne Naval Base ('40-42). From 1942-45 he was a plant superintendent for Winner Boat Contractors in Trenton, fabricating balsa wood life rafts and other life saving devices for the armed forces.

At the close of World War II, Harold returned to the family business in Bernardsville where he worked until his father's death in 1955. Harold bought the business from his siblings and continued under the name Harold J. Dobbs, Inc. until his retirement in 1975.

Among the major projects built by Harold were the buildings at Bonnie Brae; St. James Roman Catholic Church; Somerset Hills Lutheran Church; St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Raritan; Far Hills Country Day School; The Purnell School; additions to the Old Mill Inn, Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church and Bedminster Reformed Church as well as numerous custom built homes in the Somerset Hills area.

In 1945 Harold and his wife built their own home in Bedminster Township and lived there 50 years while raising four children. Harold and Irene moved to Fellowship Village in May of 1996.

Harold's life was marked by service to his community. In 1933 he founded Boy Scout Troop #54 in Liberty Corner, NJ and served as its Scoutmaster until 1936. Harold remained active in Scouting through the 1960's with Troop #151 in Bedminster and the Watchung Council, being honored with the John Denninger Award, among others. In 1947 he founded the Lion's Club of Far Hills and was a founding member of the NJ Building Contractor's Association that same year. In 1959 he joined the Wally Byam Caravan Club (Airstreamers), then founded the Watchung Unit in 1961. Harold was a primary organizer of the national Airstream rally held in Princeton in July of 1964. During the 1960's he served on the Bedminster Township Library Board.

Mr. Dobbs' interests covered a wide range: raising his family, reading, sheep farming, flying planes, camping & trailer travel, cabinetmaking, furniture repair, woodcarving, gardening, photography, model airplane flying, canoeing, sailing, motorcycle riding, landscape painting with acrylics and running the Snack Shack at Traveler's Rest, a trailer park in Dade City, Florida in which he and his wife wintered for many years.

Mr. Dobbs was predeceased by his father, Joseph Dobbs in 1955, and his mother, Lizzie Nuse Dobbs in 1953. He was also the last survivor of six children: C. Ellsworth Dobbs, formerly of Bedminster, NJ; Marjorie E. Taylor, formerly of Bernardsville, NJ and Frederick, MD; Evelyn Hynd, formerly of Westport, CT; Vera Lighthipe, formerly of Far Hills, NJ and Vero Beach, FL; Wilma Ludlow, formerly of Bernardsville, NJ and Fort Pierce, Florida.

Harold is survived by his wife, Irene B. Dobbs, daughter of Stephen H. Bryant and Ella Davenport Spargo Bryant, of Mt. Fern, NJ. Married on Nov. 26, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pa., Harold and Irene took their honeymoon down the just opened Skyline Drive. They planned to visit a new state each year until at their 50th anniversary every one would have been visited. They toured all but Alaska, and also took three trips to the British Isles and Europe.

Harold is also survived by four children: Janice I. Pedersen, of Lincroft, NJ; James B. Dobbs, of East Norwalk, CT; Stephen H. Dobbs of Oro Valley, AZ; Douglas D. Dobbs of Hagerstown, MD; and seven grandchildren: Katherine I. Pedersen-McNeely of Decatur, GA; Caroline M. Pedersen of Highland Park, NJ; John S. Dobbs of Long Branch, NJ; Sarah R. Dobbs of East Norwalk, CT; David R. Dobbs of East Norwalk, CT; Thomas Matthews of California, MD; Brian Matthews of Lutz, FL; and four great-grandchildren: Matilda I. McNeely of Decatur, GA; Thomas Matthews of Virgina Beach,VA; Noah Matthews of Lutz, FL; Samantha Mathews of California, MD; as well as his brother-in-law, Donald C. Kitchell, also a resident of Fellowship Village, formerly of Whippany, NJ; and numerous nieces and nephews across the country.

A memorial service will be held at Pottersville Reformed Church, Pottersville, NJ on Sunday, May 6 at 1 PM.

Donations in Harold's memory may be made to the Pottersville Reformed Church, (P.O. Box 89, Pottersville, NJ 07979) or the Boy Scouts of America (P.O. Box 152079 Irving, Texas 75015-2079).





Last revised: May 08, 2001
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Copyright 2001 Doug Dobbs

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