Mountain Pine closes school to mourn former staff member’s death

MOUNTAIN PINE -- The Mountain Pine School District will close its campus on Friday as students and staff pay their final respects to its former district technology director, Richard Devon Gobel, who died on Monday after a long bout with cancer.

District Superintendent Bobby Applegate said Wednesday the school will still host the first round of the football playoffs Friday night at Stanley May Field and will make up the school day at the end of the year.

Gobel, who graduated from Mountain Pine High School in 1987, came back to the school in July 2009 to serve as technology director before joining the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in January 2020 as a member of its information technology team where he was employed at the time of his death.

He and his wife of 34 years, Brenda Gobel, were high school sweethearts at Mountain Pine. She serves as an administrative assistant at Mountain Pine Elementary School.

"Devon was a friend to all," the district said in a statement. "He was very helpful, patient and a kind person. He loved to tell stories and enjoyed talking to people. He loved his alma mater and loved working here. Both his children Andrew and Jessica graduated from Mountain Pine School."

Gobel, 55, was born in Amarillo, Texas, and grew up in Mountain Pine. According to his obituary, he was a loyal supporter of the Dallas Cowboys, an avid movie enthusiast, and a huge fan of the Star Trek media franchise.

"He loved his jeep and enjoyed 'ducking' fellow jeepers," it said. "If he wasn't supporting his favorite (South Central Wrestling) wrestlers, he could be found barbecuing for his friends and family as he blared rock and roll music. He loved tinkering with electronics and playing arcade games. He was a pinball wizard."

It further notes his quick wit and humor will be missed.

"Anytime Devon was around, it was guaranteed to be an adventure full of laughter. Devon always made time to help others. He would say it all comes back to us. As we look to a future with Devon watching over us, we savor the moments we had to make a wealth of memories," it said.

Gobel's visitation will be held tonight at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. A celebration of life service will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home followed by burial at Cunningham Cemetery in Royal.