EAST PEORIA - E. Mike Dobbins, 68, of East Peoria, Ill., formerly of Normal, Ill., passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., after suffering a cerebral aneurysm.
His memory will be honored by the many, many hearts he touched as a longtime educator.
Mike was the managing artistic director at Heartland Theatre Company in Normal, Ill., where he had served since 1998.
Recently, he was an instructor at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., and a trainer and facilitator at Project Oz in Bloomington, Ill.
Mike earned his MFA in directing from the University of Illinois in 1987, and his M.A. and B.S. in music and theater from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1968 and 1969.
Mike was born on March 5, 1945, in Durango, Colo., the son of the late Lemuel and Rena "Rusty" Newby Dobbins. He married Gail Donna Van Dyke on Dec. 31, 1975, in Lincoln, Neb.
Surviving are his wife; three children, Stephen Michael (Gina) Dobbins of Louisville, Ky., Jason Michael (Lisa) Dobbins of Tampa, Fla., and Melissa (Mark) Buchmann of Wilmette, Ill.; and seven grandchildren, Kristen and Carmel Dobbins, Denton and Liam Dobbins, and Devonne, Sarah and Michael Buchmann.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Larry Dobbins.
Prior to his tenures at Heartland Theatre Company and Project Oz, Mike was the artistic director of the Lincoln Community Playhouse (Lincoln, Neb.), associate professor of speech and theater at Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.), director of theater at Highland Community College (Freeport, Ill.), a theater instructor at Lincoln East High School (Lincoln, Neb.), and managed his own dinner theaters. Mike staged more than 400 plays and musicals in his lifetime during his academic and professional career, and also as sabbatical replacement at Nebraska Wesleyan University (Lincoln, Neb.), Doane College (Crete, Neb.) and during guest director positions at Kohler Fine Arts Center (Sheboygan, Wis.) and Northampton Community College (Northampton, Pa.). Mike was the honored recipient of the National Endowment for Humanities Summer Fellowship to study Shakespeare at Princeton, N.J., in 1978, and was named speech and theater teacher of the year for the state of Nebraska in 1973.
A veteran member of the Illinois Theatre Association, he served on the executive committee of ITA for four years and was instrumental in originating the playwriting interest wing from 1978 to 1982.
Mike was respected for his work and accomplishments during his 21 years with Project Oz. Some of his achievements during that time include the development of several acknowledged training programs and participation in presentations on drug abuse and prevention for conferences in Chicago, Ill., Elgin, Ill., and Oakhurst, N.J., and service as Chair for the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association Prevention Steering Committee (1997-1999) and as Chair for the Persons with Disabilities Subcommittee for the State of Illinois IAADA (1993-1997).
A memorial service will be at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, at Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, 1115 E. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61701, with the Rev. Scott Carnes officiating. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the memorial home. Inurnment will be private in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Columbarium in Bloomington.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Heartland Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1833, Bloomington, IL 61702-1833 (http://heartlandtheatre.org/donations/).
See obituary and leave condolences at www. calvertmemorial.com.