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Mobley honored for work with Arc of Washington County

June 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

Jim Mobley's interest in the services - or lack of services - for the developmentally disabled in Washington County began when his older son, Peter, was born in 1955.

Mobley and his late wife, Margaret, became involved in what was then the Hagerstown Council for Retarded Children.

Mobley's determination over the years to improve the quality of life for children like his son has earned him the 2006 Volunteer of the Year award from The Arc of Maryland.

"Peter's birth was normal, but by the time he was just over a year old, we knew something was wrong," Mobley said. "He crawled and he walked but there was no speech."

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Their second son, Grant, was born three years later and lives in Oregon. Margaret Mobley died in 2005.

The award cites Mobley's work and that of many other volunteers with The Arc of Washington County (Association for Retarded Citizens), which has dramatically improved life for Peter and many others.

Eventually diagnosed as autistic, Peter was cared for at home and in several institutions during his youth.

"When he reached his teens, we couldn't handle him at home," Mobley said.

Peter, 50, has his own apartment at Kemp Horn, where he is fully supported with the services he needs, Mobley said.

None of this would have been possible without the years of struggle by the local Arc organization and the loyal volunteers, Mobley said.

He was nominated by his friend and fellow volunteer, Joe Startari, whom he has known since the early 1960s.

Mobley graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1946 and went into the U.S. Army for three years. Mobley was called up again in 1950 and spent 18 months in Germany.

Mobley, 77, met his future wife in Bristol, Pa., and came back to Hagerstown in 1955.

After 27 1/2 years at Jamison Door, Mobley retired as supervisor of cost accounting, and his volunteering picked up speed.

In addition to Arc, Mobley has been active in the Elks organization, where as exalted ruler in the mid-1960s, he said he learned a lot of leadership skills. Mobley serves as president of the Washington County Election Board.

Mobley has labored for the causes and rights of people with developmental disabilities for more than four decades.

A past president of the state organization (1976-78) and former member of the board of directors of The Arc of the United States, Mobley currently serves on The Arc of Washington County board of directors.

The award is sweet, Mobley said, but the real joy is seeing his son, Peter, living in a quality setting as independent as is possible.

"There is still no speech, but he'll grin and give me a hug," Mobley said.

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