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australian rowers profiles and history

Arch L Dobbie

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

The following obituary was in the Mercantile Annual report for season 1954-55.

The death of the late Mr. A. L. Dobbie on 29th December, 1954, has been felt very deeply not only by all members of our Club, but also by everyone connected with rowing, and many beyond it, for Mr. Dobbie was a man who had interests in many walks of life and such were his character and ability, that no one who was connected with him in the many phases of his activities can fail to regret his passing or be the poorer for it. 

Mr. Dobbie joined the Club at the age of 19 in 1902. He was immediately prominent in active rowing winning Maiden Eights and Fours in the season 1903-4 and being selected, as a Maiden Oarsman, to row in the Victorian Crew at Brisbane in 1904. From then on he represented the Club in Senior Crews until he retired from competitive rowing in 1908. This did not, however, end Mr. Dobbie's active participation in the sport for he was prominent as a Coach for the Club and also for Scotch College for many years. He achieved the distinction of winning the Warehousemen's Challenge Races every year from 1903 to 1914 and until quite recently was to be seen on the river in the "President's" Four on Sunday mornings. 

During these years Mr. Dobbie filled with distinction all executive offices of the Club and took a continuous and active part in the administration of the Club from 1904 until the time of his death. He was Secretary from 1904-6, on the Committee from 1906-7, Vice-Captain 1907-8, Captain 1908-19, Committee 1919-22, Vice-President 1923-33, and President from 1933. 

Mr. Dobbie was prominent also in the administration of the Rowing Association and other bodies connected with the Sport. He represented Mercantile as a Delegate from 1905 to 1907 when he became an Elected Member. He held this position until 1937 when he was elected Vice-President and in 1954, shortly before his death, he was honoured by being elected President. Besides holding these various offices, Mr. Dobbie was on the Executive Committee from 1929 to 1950 when he retired in order to make way for a younger man. He also was a Victorian selector in 1912, 1921 and 1925. 

Mr. Dobbie's assistance and advice were available also to the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association and from 1934 to 1954 he was on the Executive Committee of the Association which conducts the Melbourne Henley. He held also the office of President of the Old Oarsmen's Association, being elected to that position at the inaugural meeting in September, 1937, and holding office until his death. 

Few men, if any, have given such long and valuable service to the Club and to rowing as did Mr. Dobbie and his services in the administrative sphere have earned him unqualified admira­tion and respect. But it is not for that reason that his loss is most deeply felt at Mercantile. To many members he was a staunch and life-long friend, and there was no member too new or too young to claim his interest and encouragement. None who knew him, even if only as "The President", could, fail to appreciate his genial and kindly nature or to value his friendship and advice. With his passing the Club has lost a very valuable officer and all its members a loyal friend. 

Extracted by Andrew Guerin
October 2020

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