By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
FAIRFIELD, Iowa, Dec. 18, 2017 — Carla Offenburger and I had a terrific weekend recently in this southeast Iowa town, and one of the things we did was make our first visit to the wonderful bronze statue of our old friend Lee Gobble.
Before his death at age 100 in the spring of 2015, Gobble had been a fourth-generation owner of Gobble’s Clothing, a real community leader and one of my favorite characters ever in Iowa.
One of his last big projects was leading the fund drive that in 2004 got a new peak on the bell tower of the Jefferson County Courthouse, which had been flat-topped ugly since the weakened original peak was removed in 1949.
Five different artists collaborated on the Gobble statue, which was unveiled this past October. The lead artist and sculptor was Christopher Bennett, of nearby Bentonsport. You can read a column I wrote about Gobble just after his death right here, and it’s got details of many of his most famous capers: http://bit.ly/1H6McpP.
And here are views of the new statue.
Two ol’ pals in Fairfield — Chuck Offenburger in saddle shoes and Lee Gobble in bronze. The statue stands in front of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
The statue is placed so that Gobble will be eternally admiring the top of the bell tower on the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The statue has Gobble wearing a sweater from Fairfield’s former Parsons College, as well as buttons for the Fairfield Trojans and the Iowa Hawkeyes — the teams he followed most closely.
Gobble usually kept a stash of candy kisses for kids and others.
The clothier loved colorful, fun neckties — and his story is told in a collection of “ties” painted on to the sculpture’s base.
The statue is very accurate in its details, including the tasseled loafers Gobble preferred, and his personal motto there in note form: “This Turkey Ain’t Done Yet!” And that note includes his well-known “signature” — the “g-g-g” which stood for “gobble, gobble, gobble.”
You can email the columnist at chuck@Offenburger.com or comment using the handy form below here.
One thought on “A grand character in Fairfield & his towering final community project”
Chuck, I got a kick out of your posting about the dedication of the statue of Lee Gobble in Fairfield. Here is why. Some days, at age 76, I cannot recall what I had for dinner yesterday, or as my at-the-time 96-year-old mother used to say, “I can’t remember what I had for dinner tomorrow,” let alone remember more than 30 or 40 overnight stops on the Iowa 150 Bike Ride that we rode in 1995. But when I read your post about Lee, something in the back of my memory bank referenced an old column of yours going back to the spring of 1991 titled “Carla Burt has made life spring into full bloom again.” My little brain seemed to recall a reference to Lee Gobble in that column. So, I pulled out my dusty old autographed copy of “Ah, you Iowans!” and found the article on page 199. Sure enough, there was the reference to Lee Gobble, just as my meandering 76-year-old brain remembered. So much for old age — now I’m going to take a nap. Happy holidays to you and Carla.
Your old friend,
Arnie Henden, Colorado & Arizona