A life well lived – Bruce Leonard Dobson

10 February 1926 – 16 June 2023

By Ray Peace

Bruce Dobson passed away at Box Hill Hospital on 16 June. He was aged 97 years.

Bruce was born in Camberwell, the son of Harry Thomas Dobson and Mary Hogarth Wallace. Harry was the son of John Thomson (Jack) Dobson. Jack was the eldest son of Thomas Dobson senior, one of the earliest settlers in Ferntree Gully. Bruce’s mother died in 1937; Harry Dobson re-married, to Joyce Dunning, who passed away in 1957.

As a child, Bruce lived on the family farm, named ‘Villers-Bretonneux’ after the First World War battle in which Harry Dobson took part, located in Dorset Road, Ferntree Gully. Bruce was the third son of the family, preceded by twins, James Thomas and Harry Robert junior. From Harry Dobson’s second marriage, Bruce also had a half-brother, Byron, and a half-sister, Faye. 

Bruce recalled a difficult childhood, growing up in the midst of the Great Depression. But as a member of a widespread local clan, Bruce had many older relations as well as childhood playmates. Bruce attended Ferntree Gully State School No. 1307, as well as at Bena in South Gippsland. Bruce went on to Scotch College, also helping out his father in the wholesale fruit section at the Queen Victoria Market.

Bruce Dobson had not yet decided on any career when war intervened. Bruce joined the Air Training Corps, as a step towards enlistment in the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) in 1943; he trained as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, stationed at Ballarat and East Sale. When the war ended, Bruce was training air navigators at East Sale. Bruce was also a member of a local theatre company, the Latimer Players, appearing several times on stage at the Shire Hall in 1943.

Upon demobilisation in 1946, Bruce went to work as a driver at U.S. Bus Services, in Belgrave, which was run by Jack Kollosche; it was Jack’s daughter, Patricia, to whom Bruce was married in 1949. They had two daughters, Jane and Susana. Bruce also had a son, Jonathan. After driving buses as far afield as Tanjil Bren, Bruce and family moved to a farm at Murrabit, 300 km north of Melbourne on the Murray River, in the late 1950s. Here, Bruce found farm life hard work as always, with floods ruining his fruit trees, but could draw on a network of support from farming neighbours.

Bruce Dobson’s career took a change of direction in 1965. Seeking treatment for Patricia’s medical problems, Bruce encountered chiropractic medicine for the first time. The entire family moved to Davenport, Iowa, where Bruce trained, and qualified, as a chiropractor. Returning to Australia in 1966, Bruce set up what is believed to be the first chiropractic practice in what was then the Shire of Knox, in Boronia Road, Boronia.

The Dobson family settled in Croydon, where Patricia passed away in November 1975. Bruce became an active member of several local service clubs, including the Lions Club of Ferntree Gully, and the Peace & Loyalty freemasons’ lodge. Bruce and his partner, Norene, made a series of trips around the world, including the United States, Europe, and India, as well as around Australia. He continued as a practising chiropractor until his death. Bruce is survived by his two daughters, Jane and Susana, son, Jonathan, and his partner, Norene Crowther.

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