City loses icon at age 96
By Per Peterson
Antique autos and airplanes played a big role in the life of Homer Dobson, but his true calling came in the church and his community.
Last Friday, the longtime Tracy pastor and local civic icon died at the age of 96, leaving a void in Tracy that can never be filled.
“So many people of that era had so many hats,” Homer’s son, Tom said. “Dad and mom were fresh out of college and had one small ministry in Carthage, South Dakota … dad had two years of college and they heard about Tracy, so they took a train here; a party from the church board met them, they tried out and they said they’d like to hire them.”
It was March 1947 when Homer and his beloved wife and high school sweetheart, Betty, arrived in Tracy. He would end up standing at the Church of Christ pulpit in Tracy for 53 years before stepping down in August 2001. At the time of his retirement, he said there were parishioners at the church who never knew another pastor. He gave the church his notice on his 75th birthday. He also ministered in Lamberton for some 40 years.
“After he retired from Tracy, he kept on preaching in Lamberton,” Tom said. “He said he failed at retirement several times. He had a big retirement party but it was only for part of his career. And he did a lot of other jobs in town.”
After spearheading the construction of the Christian Manor Nursing Home in 1965, Dobson served as its administrator for 25 years until it was sold in 1990. Tom said his father’s inspiration to start a second nursing home in town (the Tracy Nursing Home was already in existence) was an elderly person who could no long take care of herself, who eventually moved out of the area.
“Dad said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen again,’” Tom said. “He kind of put together an organization that was called the Minnesota Christian Benevolent Association. It was a group of ministers, some leaders of the church — they came up with plans and blueprints and concepts and then began selling bonds.”
That nursing home is what is known today as the Prairie View Healthcare Center, which is now operated by Accura Healthcare.
“Dad said when he opened the doors, there were four people ready to move in,” Tom said. “They started with $365 — that was their working capital. He built it, saw it to completion and then was the administrator.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.