When the purple and white pride seeps into the fall Hominy air at Buck Memorial Field, a handful of football diehards can almost see Curtis Pratt Dobbins make his way out of the home locker room.
Some who know him as “Mr. Hominy Buck” noticed him by his robust football build, others by the stern sketch upon his face.
And some, like Scott Lohah, who played under Dobbins in the 1960s, know it’s him by the chills that pulse through this body.
“I can still see him coming out of the locker room and we’re standing there and it’s 100 degrees, and he’s coming and he’s twirling that whistle,” Lohah said. “It seems like he was real well built, he looked like a professional football player.”
Dobbins, perhaps the most influential high school football coach in the area, lost his life to kidney failure in March of 1978, but his memory thrives in the Hominy Buck Pride that never seems to subdue.
When the crisp evening air marks the beginning of football season, anyone in the area who has been influenced by Dobbins can’t help but feel his presence.
This season isn’t any different.
Past players, coaches, family, friends, acquaintances and those who have simply heard of Coach Dobbins bring fourth their best memories of the 36-year-old coach who believed in everything football.
A Coach is Born
Dobbins, Osage, grew up in Hominy. He was an All-State lineman for the Bucks and graduated in 1959. He played college football for Northeastern State at Tahlequah and at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He studied to be a teacher and a coach.
And somewhere in between he considered law school, but as much as he fought football it never seemed to give up on him.
He found his way back to Hominy when funding was limited for teaching and coaching positions, so he worked in the oil fields to pass the time.
He wanted to coach at Hominy and nowhere else, but settled for a job at a New Model School between Wewoka and Seminole.
In 1966 Dobbins got his big break as the head football coach for Hominy junior high.
He had one loss that entire season and in 1967, 1968 and 1969 the team went undefeated.
Lohah was in the seventh grade when Dobbins started out as the junior high head coach. He said Dobbins made a big impression on a lot of the younger football players who couldn’t wait to play for him.
“Everybody would kind of day dream and watch his team,” Lohah said. “ It was like watching a professional team, high school or college team, and we’d kind of daydream and look at what was going on.”
In 1970 Dobbins moved up to Hominy High School football and became the defensive line coach under Ron Harmon (Harmon’s son, Scott Harmon, is now the head football coach for Hominy).
Harmon and Dobbins became quick friends. When the two were in high school they played in the All-State game together and knew each other ever since.
From 1970 to 1974 the varsity team had 54 wins and 11 losses. They went to the semi-finals twice, the finals twice and won Hominy’s first football state championship title ever in 1973.
Scott Harmon said he remembers seeing how close his father was with Dobbins. He said as a child he grew up with Dobbin’s children and respected him as coach and a person.
“He and my dad were not only coaching friends but they were best friends in life, he and dad had a lot of similarities on and off the field,” Harmon said. “He just lived and breathed and ate Hominy Buck football. Coach Dobbins, he just demanded that you do things his way, the right way.”
And his players knew it.
Lohah said when players slipped or didn’t perform to their abilities, Dobbins would have them run around the track and he would often forget about them.
He said when the team watched film after practiced they would stare at the television set in awe of how perfectly positioned and disciplined they players were.
“I think some of the players and some of the coaches tried to live up to those standards,” Lohah said. “I think a lot of people wanted to go and be coaches, I think he influenced a lot of people to be peewee coaches or full-time coaches.”
An Unexpected Surprise
Dobbins was diagnosed with kidney failure in December of 1972 and was put on dialysis in July of 1973.
He coached through his illness and never missed a day of practice or school. He was resilient.
In 1975 Harmon stepped down as head coach and Dobbins stepped in. He coached the team to a one-loss season that year and resigned before the 1976 season.
His resiliency became part of the influence he had on many of the people today.
Dobbin’s wife Lora Mae Dobbin’s said her husband never let his illness get the best of him.
“We were both in denial for many months because he had always been so healthy, we were so young and just did not understand the disease and expected him to get well,” she said. “We never gave up hope. He had faith that God would take care of him and his family no matter the outcome, and that faith increased with the four and a half years on dialysis.”
Curtis Pratt Dobbins died on March 30, 1978, two years after he resigned as head coach. He spent what time he had left with his two daughters Lora Beth Dobbins and Amy Dobbins. His death was unexpected to those close to him and it was one of the most memorable times for his youngest daughter Amy Dobbins.
Amy Dobbins was only seven years old when her father passed, she relives her father’s life through the memories many still have of him.
“Not really until I had my own son did I realize what my dad had done for me and what he instilled in me,” she said. “I know that that’s a gift that we were given from a really young age, we were taught about pride. Buck pride, it’s a way of life and that’s what it was to him.”
Now both Lora Mae Dobbins and Amy Dobbins continue that pride as they cheer on Amy’s son Blake Bohner, who is a junior on the Hominy high school football team, every Friday night.
Blake Bohner never got to meet his “Papa Curtis” as he calls Dobbins, but with the help of what others remember he feels like he already knows him.
Bohner said stories of his grandfather have been shared with him since he can remember.
“I’ve lived through his stories…my mom just told me stories about my grandpa and how he was raised, what he was all about, how he went through life,” Bohner said. “He was a really good man. He loved his family, he loved going to go to church, he loved football, he loved track, anything that had to do with purple and white, anything have to do with Hominy Bucks.”
Football was always important to Dobbins but nothing meant more to him then people.
He was the kind of guy who would get up in the middle of the night to pick up a student in need and make extra sandwiches for the students he tutored, who he knew couldn’t afford to pack a lunch.
Lora Mae Dobbins said many of her memories of her husband involve all the people he helped, athletes or not.
“I never knew how many would be at the dinner table because he sought out kids that needed a meal, needed a listening ear, help with homework, problems at home, with girlfriends, you name it,” Lora Mae Dobbins said. “He never had an athlete ineligible as he made it his business to know about their grades and spent many a lunch hour and after practice tutoring on his own time.”
Dobbins did a lot of things for a lot of people and to this day the stories of his good deeds trickle in.
“I am still amazed at the people who come to us to let us know how Curt changed their life and he has been deceased 33 years,” Lora Mae Dobbins said. “He touched and made a difference in more lives in 36 years than most of us encounter in a lifetime. He just had a charisma about him that drew people in.”
At the end of the day Dobbins was a family man.
He was a strong Christian who started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Hominy and often quoted the bible.
Amy Dobbins said she often says that God, his family and the Hominy Bucks were the three loves of Dobbins’ life, and everybody knew it.
Shortly after Dobbins passed the school decided to dedicate Hominy High School football field in his honor.
His love for people and for his family is what Bohner likes to remember most about his grandpa.
Bohner said before every game he writes “CPD”, Dobbins’ initials, on his wrist and on the side of his cleats to feel a sense of presence from his grandpa.
“It puts me on a pedestal to be great, to go out there and be my best. My grandpa, he was great, it gives me a goal to be just like him and do how he did,” Bohner said. “When I step on any kind of field I feel like he’s with me.”
And so do the Hominy Buck diehards who can almost see Coach Dobbins make his way out onto the field before any football game.