Thomas J. Dobyns

Thomas Joseph Dobyns, age 87, passed away peacefully on January 1, 2021, with his family by his side, due to complications of COVID-19.

Tom was born on Oct. 4-1933 (The Year They Brought Back Beer!) to George and Olive (Meidl) Dobyns on Rose Ave., in Fond du Lac, WI.  He was the first of 3 sons, including Michael and John, who went to heaven ahead of Tom.

He was very proud of his military service, being drafted to the U.S. Navy and sworn in on Dec. 7 1955 at the Draft Board on 14th St. along with Tom Gross, Marve Groll & Jim Hannis. After 12 weeks at Great Lakes Hospital Corp School, he graduated as an Apprentice Seaman E-3. He served on the U.S.S. Pine Island, a Sea Plane Tender from 1955-57. His Naval areas of operation were Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, Formosa, Vietnam, & Pescadores Island.  He was paid $44 every 2 weeks in $2 bills and awarded the China Service Medal.

He met the love of his life, Kathlene Marie Fritzi Leu downtown at Cap’s Tavern when he asked her to dance.  He bought her ring at Dais Jewelry on Main Street for $300; and they married on July 29, 1961 at St. Louis Church. Not only did he marry Kathlene, but was blessed to have in his life her large wonderful family of her parents, Walter and Lillian (Groeschl) Leu; and her eight siblings: Marlene (Steve) Wirth, Darlene/Tootie (Mike) Mowbray, Carolyn (Clair) Barton, MaryAnn, Susie, Thomas (Lois), Patty (Jim) Hansel, and Jim (Peggy).  Tom and Fritzi bought a Fond du Lac square on Cotton St. for $10,000 and a 1955 Chevy Bellaire for $50.  Together, they raised four wonderful children:  Anne Lemke (Terrence), Daniel Dobyns, Deborah Dobyns (Darrell Frank), and Patrick Dobyns (Brenda).  Kathlene passed away on January 29, 1991.

Tom started working at the Fond du Lac Reporter at age 16 in 1949.  At age 18 he also worked for Hutter Construction and Immel Construction. He began serving a 5 – year apprenticeship in 1957 to learn the printing trade and worked as a Journeyman Union Newspaper Pressman for many years alongside his father George, and brother Mike at the Reporter. Pictured in the pressroom team photo are from left to right: Howard Wehner, Mike Dobyns (kneeling), Bernie Rottscholl, Tom Dobyns, Don Stearns (standing).  His Grandpa Tom was also a Pressman before him.  He retired after 46 years of “making the daily miracle happen”.  During this time, Tom also served as an officer in the local union for the Labor Council of FDL County.

Tom found another precious 23 years of love and caring, when he married Mary Seibel on June 7, 1997.  Mary passed away on Christmas Eve, 2019.

Tom truly loved his family, baseball, bowling, polkas, reading – especially Louis L’Amour westerns, local, American and World History.  He was a great Irish storyteller.

Missing Tom dearly are his four children, seven grandchildren – Nicholas (Kate) Lemke and Kathlene (Timothy) Balcerzak, Jennifer (Tony) Schmitz, Luke Morse, Anthony Dobyns, Enleigh (Mike) Schuetter, and Joseph Dobyns.  He was also the proud Great Grandpa of eleven little sweethearts.  Tom is also loved by Mary’s family; Laura (Jim) Horning and their children, Nicholas, Douglas and Alexandrea, Mark and Julie Seibel and their son Shawn (Lyssa), and Mary’s brother Chuck and sister in law Phyllis.  He is also missed by his sister in laws Joanie and Karen Jo Dobyns, and many nieces and nephews. 

Zacherl Funeral Home is serving the family and cremation has taken place.  A celebration of life will be planned at a later date for Tom’s family and friends.  Deep gratitude to the staff at St. Francis Home and St. Agnes Hospital for their care of our Dad.  Please honor Tom’s life with a memorial gift to Salute the Troops, FDL County Veterans, 54 E. 1st Street, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 920-322-3291,