David E. Oberly Sr. passed away peacefully on Sept. 5, 2015.
David Oberly was born on Aug. 14, 1943, in Phillipsburg, N.J. He was raised on the family farm, which was the last family-owned farm in New Jersey to use horse-drawn machinery for production.
David was a graduate of Delaware Valley Regional High School, in Frenchtown, N. J. He started college at Trenton Junior College and then left to follow a dream, chasing visions of fish, wildlife and the great open spaces of the West. He graduated from Rocky Mountain College, Billings, in 1966. In 1970, he continued his education, earning his master’s degree in health enhancement and administration from MSU-Bozeman.
David’s career included 35 years in education, serving in an array of educational and administrative responsibilities. In 1966, he was the second elementary physical education instructor hired in the Billings Public Schools. This was the start of his career, working under his mentor, Jim Dutcher. In 1974, he was the first State Supervisor of Health and Physical Education to serve in the Office of Public Instruction, under Superintendents Colberg and Rice. In 1977, David returned to Billings as the Coordinator of the Health and Physical Education Department. In 1980, he was appointed director of Health Enhancement for the Billings Public Schools. At the time of this appointment, he also served as curriculum director in all disciplines, an accomplishment of which he was very proud.
During the first 25 years of his career, David served in the capacity of director, or assistant director, for all state track and field meets, as well as basketball, and wrestling tournaments. These duties also included NAIA Track and Field Championships. He was a staunch advocate and supporter of Montana Special Olympics, serving as co-director of seven Montana State Games spanning his long career.
David held the office of president for The Montana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. He was elected president of The Northwest Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He also served as president for The National Council of Health, and Physical Educators.
During his career, David received a number of awards for his accomplishments, dedication and service. He was recognized by The Montana Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, as well as The National Council of Health, and Physical Educators when he was awarded an Honor Award from each organization.
In 1980 David was awarded a Distinguished Service from Rocky Mountain College. In recognition of his athleticism displayed in track, David was inducted into Rocky Mountain College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Athletic Hall of Fame, Mercer County Community College (Trenton, NJ) in 2009. In 2009, The Montana Association of Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance named an inspiration award in honor of David. This award is given annually to an outstanding teacher in the Montana Association of Physical Health Education, Recreation, and Dance.
David married Karen Ehresman in April 1987 and together they raised their blended family of four children: David, Josh, Farrah and Elizabeth.
As a family, they enjoyed many great times together. Traveling, spending time at the cabin and raising his family were Dave’s greatest joys. They lived in Billings until he and Karen moved to acreage outside of Laurel in 2003, where David loved working on the land to create a beautiful home and gathering place for family and friends.
He loved the outdoors, especially hunting with his sons and friends. He couldn’t wait for his grandkids to be old enough to share these adventures with him. He loved fishing and camping. Being an MSU Bobcats fan and watching the football games was also one of his avid pastimes. The biggest joy of his life, in the most recent years, was becoming a grandpa to his 14 adorable grandchildren. He was a very proud grandparent, and loved them more than anything. He was the “Rock” of the family. He left us too soon. There are no words to describe how much we will miss him.
David is preceded in death by his father and mother, Charles and Ellen Oberly.
He is survived by his wife, Karen Ehresman; sons, David (Libbie) Oberly, Josh (Becca) Oberly; daughters Farrah (Shaun) Jones and Elizabeth (Ben) Sickler; 14 grandchildren; as well as his two brothers, Dale (Becky) Oberly, Dick (Betsy) Oberly; and nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place
Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Rocky Mountain College. Interment will be at the Meadowview Cemetery, Manhattan, Mont.
In lieu of flowers, David has requested that memorials, or donations be made to the Herb and Clara Klindt Athletic Scholarship Endowment, attn.: Pete Bolenbaugh, Rocky Mountain College, 1511 Poly Drive, Billings, MT 59102.