Dobbin estate gift

Generosity spanning generations


With a strong desire to leave more than memories behind, Bill and Joy Dobbin have helped to make Eastern Oregon University a better place for future generations of students through a substantial gift. At nearly $1.6 million, theirs is the largest contribution received by the EOU Foundation in history.

Neither of the Dobbins attained higher education themselves, but through their extensive interaction with the youth of Union County, a desire to make it possible for others to go to college began to blossom.

Joy migrated to the Grande Ronde Valley with her mother and father in the early 1900s following the Oregon Trail from Oklahoma. Her attorney, Steve Joseph, recalled the tales she told about growing up as an only child on the family ranch.

“She remembered seeing Native Americans coming down the Mt. Emily grade into the valley to hunt and fish,” Joseph said. “She also spoke of riding horses with her father while moving cattle or putting up hay.

When she was old enough to consider going to college, Joy’s parents could not afford to send her, but she willingly stayed home to help on the ranch.

After marrying Bill, who hailed from Union, the couple became very active in the community volunteering time with several civic and youth organizations including the 4-H program. The Dobbins never had any children of their own, and after Bill died in 1977, Joy continued to volunteer and also served as a trustee for the EOU Foundation for many years.

“Joy was a very sharp lady,” Joseph said. “She appreciated the value of higher education. She saw so many children who were not able to realize their potential, and felt strongly that a college education was an integral part of surviving the 21st century. She and Bill wanted their influence to continue past their lifetimes.” ­­

Bill and Florence Howell rented pasture from the Dobbins for 45 years and recalled similar thoughts about their close neighbors and friends.

“I often heard Joy say that people who couldn’t get along in life just weren’t educated,” Bill said. “They held people who went to college in high esteem. They lived simply, but had a beautiful home knew early on where they wanted their good fortune to end up.”

The Dobbins’ endowment was designed to help students in several different ways. The William J. Dobbin Memorial Scholarship was established in 1991 and is awarded to male high school graduates from Union, Baker and Wallowa counties pursuing nursing degrees. The Joy Veach Dobbin Scholarship is awarded to female students from Union, Baker, Wallowa, Grant and Umatilla counties.

The combined Joy Veach Dobbin and William J. Dobbin Scholarship fund provides tuition scholarships for EOU students from Union, Baker, Wallowa, Grant and Umatilla counties.  The Dobbin Student Nursing Scholarship is awarded to EOU students majoring in nursing. All awards are based on financial need. In addition, the Dobbin Student Loan Fund was also established to offer general assistance to EOU students in financial crisis.

Florence speculated that perhaps Joy was interested in the health care field when she was young, and that is why a majority of the bequests are for nursing students.

“Joy and Bill were very private people,” she said. “I wish I would have asked more questions of Joy because she had many talents, such as cooking and watercolor painting, but she kept them well-hidden. She wasn’t the type of person who was comfortable showing them off.”

Other beneficiaries of the Dobbins’ estate include the Grande Ronde Hospital Auxiliary, Shriners, Blue Mountain 4-H Association and Salvation Army.

Joseph, who provided legal advice with setting up the Dobbins’ estate plan, said it is important to be specific when crafting an estate plan that includes the creation of endowments.

“Since the Dobbins had no living relatives, Joy felt there was no better way to impact people’s lives than to make these bequests,” he said.

Through their generosity, the Dobbins are continuing to make a difference today. Whether a scholarship is designed to honor an individual or an organization, creating an endowment like theirs provides a permanent source of funding for students who might not otherwise afford a college education.

To find out more about estate gift planning, contact the EOU Foundation at 541-962-3740 or e-mail


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