Mark Jeffrey Dobbs passed away Sunday, January 28, 2018 at Lutheran Hospital comforted by the love of his family.
Mark was born in La Crosse on March 21, 1949 to Dorwin and Marjorie (Olson) Dobbs. On November 17, 1973, he married his soul mate Diane M. Kneifl and they raised two children together.
Mark was an amazing man: gentle, kind, loving, supportive and strong. He excelled at most everything: husband, father, friend, fisherman, athlete, pilot, mechanic and carpenter. In addition to his infectious chuckle Mark quite literally had a smile that could light up a room.
Growing up Mark enjoyed being outdoors, sports, scouting (achieving the rank of Eagle Scout) and fishing. A graduate of “Old Central” in 1967, Mark was a talented athlete. As a senior varsity football player, he was chosen for both the All City and All Conference Teams. Mark was proud to be on the varsity basketball team when they played in the state tournaments. On the track team, he set a record throwing discus. After high school he went to Iowa State for a year before enlisting in the Army.
Mark was a warm, soft spoken hero and devoted Army Aviator. A Chief Warrant Officer Two (CW2), “Dobber” served proudly and enjoyed genuine admiration from his 71st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) brothers. The 71st, an Americal Division asset, owned the radio call sign of “Rattlers.” While an Aircraft Commander (AC) and as “Rattler One-Four,” Mark courageously flew over 1300 accident and incident free combat hours. His leadership, experience and demeanor earned him distinction as a “SAC” or Senior Aircraft Commander, a prestigious status bestowed upon only a select few Rattlers. While stationed in Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam during 1970-1971, Mark participated in many small operations but also flew extensively during the fierce engagements. Mark loved flying, remained proud of his record and was held in highest esteem by his fellow Rattlers.
After the service Mark worked in the construction industry as a heavy equipment operator and carpenter until his retirement in 2000. He then planned to do some serious fishing. Fishing was in his blood. He particularly enjoyed catching trout in the streams around the Coulee Region. More often than not it was a family event. After Diane retired he looked forward to their road trips. When home Mark liked “putzing” in his garage (built with his own hands and some help from a good friend), gardening and remodeling projects around the house. His last project was in the back yard laying a new brick patio and walk, and constructing a fantastic deck.
Mark loved and was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife Diane, son Joe (Crystal Abts) and daughter Katie (Jonny and Layla Kistler). He is also survived by his sister Sandy Carstens, nieces Signe (John Carey) and Lesley (Will O’Kane), mother-in-law Jeanne Kneifl, two brothers-in-law Tom and Charlie Kneifl, and special friends Milker Elsen, Ox, Jocelyn and Cooper. Mark was preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law Jim Carstens and sister-in-law Mary Kneifl.
Mark spent his last 3 years fighting for his life. He was a brave, courageous man, used to winning his fights – but for this one the victory would not be his. He will live on through the values he instilled in his family: to be kind, be thoughtful, be humble, be loyal and believe in the good.
Mark’s wishes were to be cremated with a private family burial. Plans for a celebration of his life will be announced at a later date.
We love you, Dad.