Mobley honored at Bainbridge State College memorial service

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Loving tributes filled the Kirbo Center Auditorium Monday afternoon as Bainbridge State College honored the memory of its Founding President, Dr. Edward Mobley.

This was the first of a new Founder’s Day tradition, wherein the first Monday of each Fall Semester will be declared Founder’s Day at Bainbridge State College in honor of Dr. Mobley.

Mobley, described by Dr. Richard Carvajal as one of the “biggest difference makers in Southwest Georgia,” changed thousands of lives for the better. Each year the outstanding students will be named as recipients of the annual President’s award in honor of Dr. Mobley.

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A roster of distinguished speakers, representing the various interests of Dr. Mobley, told of their relationship and how he had influenced their lives.

Joe Livingston was asked to speak on the impact Mobley had on his life by organizing the Bainbridge British Brass Band, of which Livingston was an original member. He began by saying, “How do I condense a relationship that goes back to the 70s in three to five minutes?” He spoke of the humble beginnings of the band, explaining how it grew over the years under Mobley’s direction, naming many of the places it played and naming early members. He also touched on the early days of opposition to building a college in Bainbridge and how Mobley overcame them all.

Thad Nifong addressed the history of the Bainbridge Little Theatre, of which Mobley was a driving force. He defined him as a man of vision, wisdom and courage. He also related the influence Mobley had on him as a friend, encouraging him to get his bachelor’s, then master’s degrees. Nifong, a veteran actor with the BLT, is currently a teacher of speech at BSC.

Mayor Edward Reynolds professed that fate had a hand in bringing Mobley to Bainbridge. He referred to his love of nature and related an incident that defined Mobley’s role as a caretaker. It seems some members of the Georgia Board of Regents came to Bainbridge early in the college development to see how things were progressing. They spotted a man cleaning a fountain and planting flowers. They asked for directions to the president’s office. Pointing, he replied, “It’s over there, but I am the president.”

Reynolds announced that the City of Bainbridge will plant a legacy oak on campus as a memorial to Dr. Mobley. A commemorative plaque will be engraved with the words from “The Road not Taken,” by Robert Frost.

Local CPA Bill Burke said he first met Mobley 42 years ago as a high school senior taking a speed-reading course at the college. As a college freshman he was seeking a “quick A” course and signed up for a music appreciation class, not realizing Mobley would be teaching it.

He credits Mobley for opening the wide world of music to him, especially creating a love for jazz and classical music that continues to enhance his life today.

Dewayne Gurley, the SGA president spoke briefly about what the college means to him. Although he never met Dr. Mobley, he expressed gratitude to him for creating a college that fits his student needs, both in location and cost.

A charter faculty member, Dr. Ray Chambers explained how Dr. Mobley was always an educator in everything he did. “He was a teacher to all of us.” He and the original faculty designed a curriculum that would help students get the education they needed to understand what was happening in the world. It was Mobley’s idea to add a Technical Division. He also spoke of the human touch Mobley had with not only the faculty, but with their families and the students’ lives. “The faculty members were not considered employees, but were the college,” he explained.

Dr. Jenny Harper, a current faculty member said she grew up as a neighbor to the Mobleys, thus he was always a part of her life and encouraged her to grow. She defined him as a Renaissance Man, a reference made by several of the speakers.

Prior to the conclusion of the program, a special video presentation was shown. Developed by Suzanne Reynolds of the College Relations Department, it included many early photos that told the life and affiliations of Dr. Mobley, in the college and the community, in addition to showing the loving devotion he had to his wife Martha and daughter Laurel.

As Dr. Carvajal said in closing remarks, “His fingerprints are all over” the community and Southwest Georgia.

As a closing tribute, the auditorium was filled with the strains of “Amazing Grace,” as the large crowd sang Dr. Mobley’s favorite song.