Edward Benjamin Dohman
Blond-haired, blue-eyed Ed Dohman arrived at Home on the Range for Boys in the fall of 1951. The oldest of three boys, Eddie, as he was called by Fr. Fahnlander, had been living at the North Dakota State Training School in Mandan. He hadn’t been sent there due to bad behavior – there just wasn’t any other place for him to go.
Ed’s parents were both handicapped. Because of their limitations, the couple faced many obstacles in trying to meet the needs of their growing sons. While Ed was sent to Mandan, 11-year-old Ray and 10-year-old John were placed in a licensed boarding home in their native Grand Forks.
The superintendent of the training school felt that Ed should be given an opportunity to live where he could receive guidance and training, thus establishing good character traits. His first thought was to send the young man to Fr. Flanigan’s Boys Town in Nebraska. But, the waiting list to get into Boys Town was lengthy and plans never materialized.
Fr. Cassedy’s Home on the Range for Boys had been open slightly more than a year when Ed’s application for admittance was approved. It was a reunion of sorts as Ray, the middle boy, moved to the ranch with his older brother.
When asked to share a memorable experience of life at Home On The Range, former boys frequently recall the fun and mischief they were involved in. Ed looks back at the admiration he held for Fr. Cassedy and Fr. Fahnlander, “Without a doubt, I remember the respect I had for the two priests. They made such a difference in my life and my life of service to others. They were wonderful men devoted to the needs of others. Clearly, I credit them for showing me the love of Christ in all my experiences: from graduating at Beach High School to leadership and management achievements in my professional life. I have been left with a consistent reminder of what the ranch staff meant to me.”
The professional life that Ed refers to includes more than 36 years of enlisted service in the United States Air Force and 38 years in the Air Force Reserves and Federal Civil Service. He served in the military continuously from 1956, when he left Home On The Range, until September 1992. Ed attained the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and First Sergeant of HQ 8050th Military Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, serving in positions such as disaster preparedness, chief clerk, and training instructor.
Ed then rose to mid-and-upper-level management positions in the Civil Service, dealing with finances, systems administration, human resources, federal housing, and supervisory programs. In May 1994, he retired from the Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
With two retirements behind him, you’d be wrong if you thought Ed was taking it easy. He is currently employed as a people resources recruiter with Boeing Aerospace Corporation in San Antonio.
Retired Colonel Joseph Hearn, III, USAF Squadron Commander, describes the former ranch hand’s successful Air Force career, ” AEd worked for me, he was my right-hand man for years. He was a truly productive, trusted friend – someone you could lean on and depend on. Ed had a variety of jobs, often dealing with high-ranking officers. He is a super guy!”
One time Ed discovered a set of budget numbers that were way off base, which meant the squadron would be eliminated. He immediately marched into the General’s office and said, “You’re going to make a mistake!” The General asked him to explain. Based on Ed’s reputation and the information he presented, the squadron was saved. Since that time, it has become known as one of the top units in the Air Force, well run and cost effective. He deserves any accolades that Home On The Range can give him.
Ed kept in touch with Fr. Fahnlander through the years, sending back a few dollars whenever he could. A letter he penned to Father in September 1960 reads in part, “I shall always call Boys Ranch my home, because goodness, courtesy, kindness, and obedience were always evident in producing respectful, happy boys.”
In a more recent correspondence, Ed wrote, “I remember leaving Home On The Range with a totally improved work ethic, respect for my fellow person, a want to serve and help others, and the desire to make a difference in today’s society. My stay made me want to be a credit to Home On The Range and the surrounding community.”
Fr. Fahnlander remembers Ed displaying these characteristics while a resident at the ranch. “He tried to set a good example and be a leader for the other boys. I was proud when he graduated from high school in Beach.”
Married, he and his wife Maevonne make their home in San Antonio, where Ed is involved with beautification projects, gardening, and social functions of their subdivision association. A member of the American Legion, he enjoys collecting antiques and coins and maintains a small ranch at Blanco, Texas.
Confirmed into the Catholic faith at St. John’s Catholic Church, Beach, North Dakota, Ed attends services at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church and Castle Hills Church. His daughter and two grandchildren reside in the San Antonio area.
Brother, Ray Dohman, an antique dealer and father of four, makes his home in Grand Forks. John is retired and lives in East Grand Forks.