Quail Dobbs: 1941-2014
January 24, 2014
Marvin "Quail" Dobbs, one of the most decorated rodeo clowns and beloved performers in the sport's history and an inductee in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, died at his home in Coahoma, Texas, on Jan. 15. He was 72.
Dobbs began his career in rodeo by riding bulls and bareback horses, and got into work as a barrelman by utter chance; the guy hired to perform at the Buffalo, Minn., rodeo in 1962 failed to show and Dobbs was pressed into service.
"I told (them), 'Hey let me try that barrel, I've been a clown all my life,'" Dobbs said in an interview with the Abilene Reporter-News last November. "At least that's what my teachers in high school said."
That was the start of what would become a 36-year career in which Dobbs would be named PRCA Clown of the Year twice (1978 and 1988) and the Coors Man in the Can four times (1985-86, 1990 and 1993).
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He is one of only three men to work as both a bullfighter (1972) and barrelman (1978, 1985 and 1988) at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and also worked seven times as a barrelman for the Wrangler Bullfight Tour Finals.
"I set some goals," Dobbs told the Reporter-News. "I wanted to go to the National Finals as a bullfighter and I did. I wanted to go to the National Finals as a barrelman and I did, so I fulfilled my dream."
In addition to his induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 2002 – joining a class that included Joe Beaver, Clyde Vamvoras and Gary Leffew – he was enshrined in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame the following year and the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2004.
Dobbs was a longtime favorite at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days, working that rodeo 28 times, and the 1998 Daddy of 'em All marked Dobbs' last appearance in professional rodeo.
After his retirement, Dobbs became a Howard County (Texas) Justice of the Peace in 1999, and held the position in Coahoma until 2013, when poor health caused him to step down.
Dobbs held a Kindergarten Rodeo at the elementary school in Coahoma for 35 years, which he always oversaw in full rodeo clown makeup.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Judy, and their two children, Stephanie and Coley.
Services were held Jan. 19 at the Trinity Baptist Church in Big Spring, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919, or to Trent's Retreat, in honor of Dobbs' nephew who died of cancer at the age of 15. Trent's Retreat address is 1015 FM 2887, Ballinger, Texas, 76821 and the organization can be reached at http://www.trentsretreat.org or 325-365-2103.