Thursday, November 1, 2018
MUSIC AND THE JAPANESE BEETLES
TRABER NORMAN DOBBINS
"He was a Renaissance man," his daughter Carolyn wrote to me when I reached her to find out more about my dad's cousin Traber. I had heard of "Cousin Traber" all my life; as well as Cousin Percy, both of whom were sons of "Uncle Gaston." My dad had left Colorado in 1930, and there were no relatives from his side of the family who followed. Thus, when I started researching my family's history, everything "Dobbins" was new to me.
Traber was born in Las Animas, Colorado on November 25, 1896. His mother died when he was two, and he was raised by his dad and stepmother, along with a half-brother, Percy Dobbins. The Dobbins family were very musical. Gaston and his brother, Scott, were both musicians, playing horns in the Las Animas City Bands for many years and also belonging to the Colorado Springs "Midland Railroad Band." As an adult, Gaston worked as an accountant in the local beet factory, but his passion throughout his life was music, teaching music and leading bands. Traber followed his father's footsteps in music, early learning to play the clarinet, saxophone and well as other wind instruments.
Below is a picture of Traber in the Las Animas band circa 1910.
Traber enlisted in the Navy in March 1918 and served as a musician, 2nd class, in the Naval Band at the Naval Hospital, Ft. Lyon, Colorado, until his discharge in February of 1919, according to his obituary.
But why daughter Carolyn called him a Renaissance Man was that over his lifetime not only was he active in the music field but he was interested and knowledgeable about all wild life (particularly birds and wildflowers), and high school and college sports of all type (football, hockey, basketball, bowling, etc.); he received a medical certificate from the U of Mississippi in 1924, his BS degree from Mississippi State College in May of 1927, and a MS degree from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in May of 1932, having completed courses in entomology, bacteriology, pathology, physiology, chemistry and physics and at various times was an instructor in schools of higher learning. In addition, in 1932 he was appointed a field aid in the Division of Fruit Insect Investigations, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, and in 1940 was assigned to the Japanese Beetle Labratory in Moorestown, New Jersey.
He was still actively engaged in his many interests at the time he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and died in 1952. He left a wife, the former Vera Pruitt, and three children, Robert Norman, Carolyn and Beverly. He was buried with military honors in the National Cemetery at Beverly, N.J.
NOTE: Traber Norman Dobbins had a second cousin named Traber Norman. Their Grandmothers, Nancy Corel Dobbins and Mary Corel Puckett were sisters. My dad's grandma was also Nancy Corel Dobbins.