Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fleetus Lee Gobble (1891-1961)

  This humorously named man is Fleetus Lee Gobble, a resident of Forsythe County, North Carolina who served nearly 20 years in his states House of Representatives. The North Carolina manual mentioned above is one in a large series of state books which can be located on The state manuals located on said website span from 1917 up until the mid-1970s and over 30 interestingly named political figures have been discovered in them thus far! Of these new "discoveries" the name of Fleetus Lee Gobble is by far the strangest. Mr. Gobble is also notable for being the only politician profiled here thus far who was a barber by trade.
  This uniquely named politician was born on New Years Day 1891 in Davidson County, North Carolina, a son of John H. and Frances Foster Gobble. Fleetus attended schools local to the Davidson County area and in 1911 began studying at the Atlanta Barber College. After completing his studies at the Barber College Gobble married in 1913 to Ms. Lena Blanche Evans (1888-1975) and this union eventually produced three children, Juanita (1914-1989), Fleetus Lee (1919-1986) and James Franklin (1922-1989).
   Throughout the succeeding years, Gobble put his education at the earlier mentioned Barber's College to good use, as he became quite the notable barber in the Forsythe County area. The North Carolina State Archives (which houses Gobble's papers and business correspondence) gives note that he was the owner of a chain of barbershops as well as two schools of cosmetology! Gobble was also a member of the Associated Master Barbers of America and later served as the president of the State Association of Master Barbers from 1934-1935.
  In addition to his professional and business activities, Fleetus L. Gobble was also quite prominent in state politics. In 1941 the citizens of Forsythe County elected him to the North Carolina State House of Representatives to the first of many terms. His service in the state legislature was almost continuous (with the exception of the 1947-49 session), and during his lengthy service Gobble held a seat on the committee of House Appropriations and later chaired the committee on House Enrolled Bills. 

                          Gobble's name as it appeared in a 1951 North Carolina state manual.

   Late in his service in the legislature Gobble was appointed by then North Carolina Governor (and later Attorney General) Luther Hartwell Hodges to the position of trustee for the Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1955. He served a four-year term in this post, which concluded on June 30, 1959. Fleetus Lee Gobble died of a heart attack in Raleigh on March 1, 1961 at age 70. He was still serving in the legislature at the time of his death and he was subsequently buried in the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church Cemetery in Davidson County, North Carolina. The portrait of Gobble above was discovered in a 1945 North Carolina manual, and this same picture appeared in subsequent editions of this state book as his official legislative portrait. I must also note that these manuals offer up the only substantial "biography" on Gobble available online!

Gobble's obituary as it appeared on the front page of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram in 1961.

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