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January 2000

The Dobmeier Dynasty
5 Generations of Family Values

by Maria Scrivani

Any way you look at it, Gen and Dick (“Dobby”) Dobmeier are a pretty remarkable couple. Their story is compelling in its normalcy and decency. In a world that seems full of dark and stormy tales, the Dobmeier family saga shines like a beacon of hope.

They raised seven children while he helped run the family business-Dobmeier Lift Truck, Inc. - and she worked as an R.N. at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. They lost their only son, their fourth child, Brian Joseph to cancer in 1969. He was 10 years old at the time of his death. His handsome face shines in family photos. He was bright and a talented artist and he lives forever in the hearts and memories of his parents and six sisters.

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The Dobmeir children in 1966.

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Dobby’s father, John E. Dobmeier with his first five grandchildren.

Gen and her father, Charles Aston McNeil
at her 1948 Holy Angels Academy graduation.

You can’t spend time with the Dobmeiers without someone bringing up the name of their beloved Brian. Gen proudly shows a poem written by his sister Sally, who was then a fourth-grader. It reads in part: “I love God and my sisters/But I can’t help but say/I wish Brian had lived/And could play with me today.”

Life has a way of going on, despite tragedy. So it has for the Dobmeiers. Now Gen and Dobby have the pleasure of watching 17 grandchildren grow up. On holidays everyone tries to gather at their Grand Island home. If it’s summertime, they enjoy their stunning outdoor deck and swimming pool and Dobby’s 27-foot cabin cruiser, docked at his back door on the waterway.

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The Dobmeier grandchildren in 1997.

If Dobby’s name sounds familiar it’s because he’s spent nearly three decades spotting for Van Miller’s sportscasts. The team has covered games of the old Buffalo Bisons, the late, lamented Buffalo Braves of the NBA, the Buffalo Stallions soccer team, various college basketball games and, most notably, the Buffalo Bills. Dobby and Gen were at all four Bills Super Bowl appearances. This year Dobby, who like his old buddy Van would be hard-pressed to conceal his partisanship for the home team, is predicting a 9 and 7 season.

The North Buffalo native (Gen’s also from that part of town but their paths didn’t cross until they were young adults) knows something about football. From Canisius High School he went to Niagara University on a full athletic scholarship, playing fullback and linebacker. His late brother Norman went to Canisius College and played ball there. The brothers were often pitted against each other in the great Eagles-Griffins rivalry that continues to this day. An old Courier-Express sports story described the situation for Dobby and Norm’s parents: “Dobmeiers Are Neutral For Griffs-Eagles Game/They Just Can’t Help It!”

Last year Dobby, a Korean War veteran, helped unveil an on-campus memorial to Niagara students who fought in that war. The year 2000 marks the 50th anniversary of his graduation from NU.

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Dobby and three of his sons-in-law.

He’s an avid boater who is past Commodore (1988) of the Buffalo Launch Club and current president of the local chapter - District 3 of the International Order of the Blue Gavel.

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1988 Buffalo Launch Club Commodore’s Ball.

At 72 and 69 respectively, he and Gen still keep active on the ski slopes in winter.

In the Dobmeier tradition of doing something, Dobby took the whole family to Emery Park for skiing lessons the winter that Brian died. They learned together, strapping on those old lace-up boots and commencing a family tradition that continues 30 years later. Gen has recently added another sport to her repertoire of activities, having taken up the game of golf “with a 93-year-old friend of mine.”

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Keeping the ski traditions alive at Kissing Bridge.

Gen, born Genevieve McNeil, is the granddaughter of Peter McNeil, whose name is immortalized on a plaque in the Old Main Building as one of the 15 “Financial Founders” of Canisius College. They were a group of businessmen who staked the Jesuit college. Gen’s grandparents were also financial backers of the Rt. Rev. Nelson H. Baker and his boys’ home. She still has letters written by Father Baker, who is now a candidate for sainthood, consoling her grandmother on the death of Peter McNeil.

Gen graduated from Holy Angels Academy and went on to earn a BS in nursing from D’Youville College. (Now she sits on the college’s Alumni Board). Gen also has her teaching certification from Buffalo State College. For 27 years she worked as an RN at Kenmore Mercy, chiefly in the Coronary Care Unit. Working part-time for ten of those years, she took the night shift so that she was home during the day. “My children never knew I worked,” she jokes. “When I came home in the morning, they were headed off to school. Dobby became a great ‘breakfast-maker’. You can’t do anything like that without the cooperation of your husband.”

Her daughters have followed Gen’s exemplary footsteps. Somehow they have all managed successful, high-powered careers and five of the six are mothers as well. They’re all good friends. Annually they take off for a “sisters’ weekend,” usually to the Jersey shore and once to Florida. It’s a chance to regroup and catch up, away from the happy hubbub of their daily lives.

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First annual Sister’s Weekend in Ocean City, 1994..

The eldest daughter is Mary Lynn Lenz who, like her dad, attended Niagara U. She lives in Boston, Mass., where she’s made a name for herself in the financial stratosphere. A former vice-president of Key Bank, last year she was appointed senior vice president of Citizens Bank in Boston. A recent Boston Business Journal named her in a list of “125 Leaders Making a Difference.” She is married to J. David Lenz. They are the parents of Jennifer who attends Buffalo State College, Christine a Bay State College student, John who plays for the Texas Tornado Junior ‘A’ hockey team in Dallas and Maeghan who is attending Newman Prep in downtown Boston after leaving Nardin Academy in Buffalo.

Next is Catherine Edginton, married to Glenn Edginton and living in the Philadelphia area. Cathy graduated from the College of Boca Raton and worked post-graduation as assistant to the late Gloria Berger of Berger’s department store here. Now she’s a fashion coordinator for Doncaster clothing trunk shows. Their eldest child, Ryan is on a baseball scholarship at Arizona State, Kyle and Lyndsay are high school students and Eric is a seventh-grader. All of Cathy’s children are involved in sports, such as snowboarding, wrestling, football and surfing.

Next in the lineup is Barbara Dubbs who also lives in Philadelphia. (She and sister Cathy are so close they were married in a double wedding ceremony!) Today Barbara, who has a degree from Buffalo State and holds titles from several beauty contests (locally she was Miss Erie County East), does public relations for the Wealth Advisory Group of financial planners. She is married to John Dubbs and is mother to high-schooler and hockey buff Brian and to Kelly who’s in middle school and active in the Philadelphia School of Dance.

Sally McMahon is the fourth daughter, a Bryant & Stratton graduate who once represented Erie County in the Miss New York State Teen pageant. A Western New York resident, she works as a consultant for McDonald Investments, a KeyCorp affiliate. She and husband Michael McMahon have four children—Matt, who’s in high school, middle-schooler Katie and grade-schoolers Allyson and Patrick. All of Sally’s children are active in football, hockey and cheerleading.

Suzie Dobmeier, a graduate of Buffalo State College, is the next daughter. She’s clearly everyone’s favorite aunt. Suzie, who lives near her parents, has made a name for herself in local broadcast circles. She was producer of Channel 2’s PM Magazine, winning a national award for a story on mini-bikes featured on the show. For seven years, she worked at Channel 7 in the promotion department and most recently as the producer of AM Buffalo. Recently she accepted the challenge of a new job, returning to Channel 2 as Senior Promotion Producer. True to Dobmeier form she is an avid skier and swimmer.

Jacqueline DeSimone is the youngest child and mother of the youngest Dobmeier grandchild. She and husband Kenneth live in Western New York. Their children Anthony and Andre are in grade school and active in Little League football and baseball. Baby Angela turns two in January. Her mother also works part time, as a sales rep for wholesale distributor Joseph H. Stomel.

It’s quite a family—an enduring legacy. And Gen and Dobby are indeed proud of their children and grandchildren and all they’ve accomplished. But it’s pride tempered with the knowledge that what fortune so generously bestows on us might, in a heartbeat, be taken away. As they revel in and celebrate their lives together, they remember the son whose presence remains as a gentle, guiding spirit. It makes them cherish each other all the more. For the Dobmeiers, that’s what family values are all about.

Maria Scrivani is a freelance writer.


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