May 14, 1927 – October 21, 2017
Wesley Hebe Dobbs, 90, of Twin Falls passed away Saturday, October 21, 2017 at his home surrounded by his family and friends. Wes was born on May 14, 1927 in Twin Falls, Idaho to Jeanette and Heber Dobbs. When he was young, his parents divorced. Growing up during the Great Depression was difficult. His mother and he were very close and she loved him deeply and worked very hard, but making a living as a single parent during that time was challenging. For a period of time, Wes lived in an orphanage. He attended school in Twin Falls and Jerome before moving to San Francisco, California with his mother and beloved stepfather, Claude F. Wiley. He graduated from Mission High School in San Francisco, California in 1945.
Wes admired and loved his stepfather dearly. Claude Wiley, a veteran of WWI and WWII, also served as a policeman, TFPD Chief of Detectives and the Twin Falls County Coroner. Following graduation, Wes was enlisted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed in the Far East Theatre-Japan. While in the army, Wesley learned and practiced unarmed defense. In Japan, he observed and became intrigued with judo and sumo.
After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 1947, young Wesley followed in his stepfather’s footsteps and went to work for the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office. This began an illustrious career in law enforcement. During the years of 1947-1965, Dobbs also served in the Twin Falls Police Department as the Assistant Chief of Police, the San Jose Police Department and the Idaho State Police Department. Before his death, he was the last remaining Twin Falls City Policeman who served during the 1940’s. While in San Jose, Wes earned his Bachelor of Arts in Police Science from San Jose State College in 1951.
In 1947 upon entering San Jose State College, Wes enrolled in the judo course under Sensei Yoshiro Uchida. He instantly took to the sport and began training at night at the San Jose Buddhist Temple. He was a member of the San Jose State College team that won and retired the California Championship trophies. He received his black belt at the Northern California Championships in Stockton, California in 1950 when he was named outstanding judoka. In a very rare move, the tournament officials stopped the tournament and presented Wes with his black belt “batsugan,” Japanese for “on the spot.” The presentation was made by Sensei Hank Ogawa. In 1951, the first PAAU Championships were held at the University of California. Dobbs won the heavyweight championship while weighing only 185 pounds. His career as a judo competitor was a lengthy and successful one. He competed in his final match at the age of 44 against Sheldon Yamasaki. This championship match went into double overtime with Wes emerging as the grand champion!
In 1950, he was commissioned in the United States Army Reserve and recalled in 1951 to active duty in the U.S. Army (Military Police Corps) during the Korean War. While on active duty, Wes commanded the Military Police Unit assigned to protect President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C. in 1953. Following his second honorable discharge, Wes remained in the USAR (Heavy Infantry, Military Police, and Combat Support Company Commander) and in the Idaho Army National Guard 116th Armored Cavalry Regiment where he retired in 1981 with over 31 years of service and the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
While walking a beat as a policeman on Main Street in Twin Falls, Wes met the “most beautiful woman” he ever saw working at the Roper’s clothing store. On September 27th, 1957, Wes married the love of his life, Janet Marie Moore. This year, Wes and Janet celebrated 60 years of marriage together. Wes and Janet raised three sons; Wiley J. Dobbs (Christina) of Twin Falls, Gregory L. Dobbs of Prescott, Arizona, and Brian W. Dobbs (Kathy) of Twin Falls. “Papa and Nana” are the proud grandparents of Dylan, Aaron, Austin, Marcus and McKenna. The brothers and grandchildren all agree that they could not have asked for better parents or grandparents.
Together, Wes and Janet had an exciting life. For the Dobbs clan, judo became a family affair. The Dobbs’ boys traveled to and participated in hundreds of judo tournaments in the Intermountain area and across the country. Janet was their fiercest supporter. Janet and Wes enjoyed many trips together across the United States and to Asia and with friends, Bob and Pat Richards, to Europe. For well over a decade, Wes and Janet were “snow birds” and during the winter months they lived in Casa Grande, Arizona where they golfed and enjoyed the company of many friends. Always wanting to help others, Wes served as a substitute teacher for the local school district well into his 80’s. Most of all, Wes and Janet loved their home on Crestwood Drive where they lived for 58 years. Janet moved around a lot as a youngster and she made Wes promise to get her a “white house with a picket fence” and never move her again. Dad was especially proud that he kept that promise.
In 1955, with the support of Twin Falls Recreation Department, Wes and lifelong friend Guy Matsuoka started a judo program in the Twin Falls High School gym that was attended by local junior and senior high school students and some interested police officers. The club expanded quickly and moved to a classroom in the basement of Lincoln Elementary School in Twin Falls, and then to the local YMCA and ultimately to its present location at the College of Southern Idaho. Over the years under Matsuoka and Dobbs’ tutelage, several players from the Twin Falls-CSI Judo Club participated competitively at the national level. As instructors and advisors of judo, Dobbs Sensei and Matsuoka Sensei always refused to accept any pay.
In 1965, Wes was hired by President James “Doc” Taylor to be among the first faculty members of the newly created College of Southern Idaho. He wrote and began teaching the Law Enforcement Program at the CSI. This was the first college law enforcement program in the State of Idaho. It quickly became one of the most respected programs in the nation. A life-long learner who strived for continual improvement in his personal and professional life, Wes earned his M.Ed. from the University of Idaho in 1982. One of the highlights of his career occurred in 1988 when he presented his son, Brian, with the Claude F. Wiley Award for being the outstanding law enforcement cadet in the CSI program. In 1990, his law enforcement program was chosen “Idaho Secondary Education Program of the Year” by the Idaho Vocational Association and the American Vocational Association. In 1997, after attaining the position of Full Professor and Program Manager of Law Enforcement at the College of Southern Idaho, Wes retired. A grand retirement celebration marked his 50 years of service in the area of law enforcement. During this celebration, he was recognized by Idaho Governor Phil Batt and by hundreds of appreciative law enforcement and judo students he helped through the years. In 2015, Wes, Janet and their sons established the Dobbs Family Wrestling Endowment with the Twin Falls Education Foundation. In recognition of their enduring contribution to youth in Twin Falls through the years, the Foundation presented the 2017 Partner in Education Award to Wes and Janet and their family at the Red Apple Gala last April.
Wes is survived by his beautiful, loving wife, his sons, grandchildren, brothers-in-law Bob (Peggy) and Tom (Joyce) Moore, Aunt Marietta James, nephews, nieces, and countless former police cadets, soldiers, and judo students whose lives were greatly and positively impacted by this very special man. He is preceded in death by his mother, father, stepfather, stepbrother Warren Wiley, and in-laws Jess and Midge Moore.
A celebration will be held for “Big Wes” at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 28, 2017 in the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Auditorium. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Park with Military honors by the Idaho Army Honor Guard and Magic Valley Honor Guard. In lieu of flowers, Wes and his family would like to encourage friends and family members to donate to the Twin Falls Education Foundation Dobbs Family Wrestling Endowment or the College of Southern Idaho Foundation. Services are under the direction of Reynolds Funeral Chapel, Twin Falls.
Condolences may be left for the family by visiting www.reynoldschapel.com.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”