Sincere thanks to the following people who spoke at the Memorial Service for Doug on June 12, 2010 at the Hill Church
And thanks to:
I appreciate the support you have given our family, more than I can say. I also need to give heartfelt thanks to Bob Fournier of the Gilman Funeral Home and Pastor Jamie Harrison of this church and our friends who have helped make the services as special as my husband was.
At least I learned early on that life could be cut short. So Doug and I never took each other for granted. We had so much fun together. Our first date 20 years ago was climbing Mt. Riga. We had both recently gotten dumped, so we decided to commemorate it by dressing in black, eating black food, and drinking black drinks. We were going to share a massive mope but ended up laughing the entire time. We were still in honeymoon mode as of this week. Last Saturday Doug picked a wildflower bouquet for me, complete with stinkbugs, and we had a candelight dinner and campout in the broken RV in our own backyard. I had been feeling a bit blue so he had planned a hike after work on Tuesday to see the mountain laurel. The pack he laid out is still at the top of the stairs, waiting for him to come home.
Even though we were very different, and I was much too hard on him, we did love each other beyond measure. My biggest fear has always been that happiness like this was too good to be true, and he would be taken from me. I so wanted the chance to grow old together. I am lost without Doug. He was my North, my South, my East and West.
I wanted to share something that I wrote to Doug many years ago about why I love him.
You enjoy life. You make me laugh, and you don’t make me cry. You’re good natured, flexible and forgiving. You can fix anything (after you break it.) You’re strong and handsome. You believe in me and accept me the way I am. You are open, honest, and faithful. There is no pretense. You are loving, kind, thoughtful and affectionate. You make time for us to be together, but we each get time for our friends and interests. You’re a rugged mountain man, yet will happily go on a day hike with me on a flat trail or haul me up the hard parts. You treat me like a princess. You’re a wonderful friend. I am proud to be your wife. I need you and I love you and I want to be with you always.
I wish the day had never come when we would talk about Doug in the past tense. He was a great guy. He did a lot of heavy lifting. He was a true friend. He had heart of a lion even though it apparently failed him. He was my hero.
I think you’ll agree that the world was a better place because Doug was in it. I cannot imagine life without him. We are lucky to have had any time with him, even though it was not enough. I don’t know why he didn’t get a chance to be with us longer but I do know on thing - he would not want us to be so sad. He would want us to enjoy life as much as he did and yuck it up.
Doug worked for the DEP for 27 years – I had the pleasure of knowing Doug for 22 of those years. Doug devoted his career to cleaning up Connecticut’s environment – first by identifying problems as a hazardous waste inspector and then by working with parties to clean up contaminated sites as a Supervising Environmental Analyst. During the course of Doug’s career – the work became more complicated, Doug took on greater responsibility and always excelled.
Doug was known for many things around the office. First and foremost, as a nice guy with a sunny dispositon. That is absolutely true and it has been said many, many times this week – but there was so much more.
You could set your watch by Doug’s arrival and departure from work, thanks to his long standing van pool arrangement – part of his commitment to environmental protection. He came in the door – and went right to work and stayed focused all day – with little regard to the chaos happening around him. His productivity was unsurpassed – if he felt that his staff was already overloaded – Doug would keep the project himself and get it done.
His sense of fashion was legendary, especially before Bet’s influence. Highlights include a rope – and I literally mean a piece of rope – belt, to using a pillow case as a suitcase, to having to wear Tevas for a month to help insure his toe did not fall off because of frostbite. Doug was the kind of guy who would willingly give you the shirt off his back – the question was where had that shirt been and did you really want it.
You could always count on Doug for a good story. They usually started slowly and gradually built to a crescendo but Doug kept everyone’s rapt attention – regardless of whether he was relating the outcome of a contentious meeting or talking about staying up all night to catch the possum family living in the basement. He was also a keen observer of human nature – and I have learned many a thing from his insightful statements.
Doug’s ability to work through bodily injury was without compare. How many people show up for work with one of their eyes swollen shut from black fly bites gotten while climbing in the Whites and carry on like nothing happened? Or dislocated their knee practicing with the DEP charity soccer team at lunch, work through the afternoon as the knee swells and swells, ride the van pool home and show up for work the next morning?
Everyone who worked with Doug saw the humble, honest, ethical, respectful and knowledgeable professional. He had the uncanny ability to work with everyone – even those who showed up loaded for bear. Doug would disarm them with genuineness, experience and facts and they would leave with a new respect for the work that DEP does and obviously for Doug.
But my favorite side of Doug was the softer side of the Doug. The guy whose screen saver says “I am a lucky man to be married to Bet.” There are a couple theories floating around the office as to how it got there – but we know for sure he could have changed it if he wanted to. The guy who took the time in his quiet way to mentor his staff and provide sage wisdom to anyone who wandered into his office. It was never unsolicited – you had to seek it out – but the ones in the know did. I count myself as one of the lucky ones – because I knew.
To paraphrase the words to a relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen song:
They say you can’t take it with you – but I think that they are wrong. Because I woke this morning and something big was gone.
The DEP family will miss Doug dearly – but we are miles better off for having known him.
Doug, Ron, Fred and I met and became friends during our freshman year of high school and we’ve stayed good friends since. We’ve seen each other at our best and our worst – successes, failures, marriages, divorces and breakups, kids, and much more. I wanted to say something about Doug today and I really struggled with how to condense nearly 40 years of friendship into a couple of paragraphs.
In searching for the right words to describe how I feel about Doug, I hit on one word that seems to fit best - “character.” There are several definitions for this word and I believe Doug exemplified more than one.
The USA Network on TV advertises itself as the place where “characters are welcome.” Doug would certainly be right at home there. One of the many things that made him a character in my eyes was his independence (the word “headstrong” also crossed my mind more than once). He was a guy who always did his own thing regardless of what it might look like to others.
The one thing that did matter most to Doug was that he was living life to its fullest and doing what he felt was right in his heart. I believe his inner strength came from the strong love and support of his family, and I’ve never seen him more comfortable and happy with his life than he has been since he and Bet finally got together.
Doug was quite a character, and he was also a man of outstanding character. He was a devoted husband (with the possible exception of the anniversary golfing incident) a loving son and brother, a valued employee and a dedicated friend. No matter how long it had been since we last got together, it always felt like it had hardly been any time at all. I think the DEP email said it best – Doug was an all-around wonderful human being.
I’m certain that Doug would not want us to mourn his passing, he would want us to celebrate his life. Madeline and I spent Wednesday evening with Fred and Barb and we couldn’t comprehend how something like this could happen to one of the most physically fit people we know. As the evening went on and we looked at old pictures and reminisced about our times with Doug, our spirits were lifted and we found ourselves laughing hysterically over the way we looked and some of the ridiculous things we did together. As sad as I am today that he is no longer with us, I am also happy and grateful that we were friends and I was able to share a small part of his life.
Most of you here, with the exception of the relatives, have known Doug only in the last 30 years. Many of you might wonder how Doug came to the person he was – a caring, dedicated, hard working, compassionate, fun loving, and tolerant person.
As you might have read in the obituary, Doug was born happy. That might have been a clue to his future. So I am going back to a time to show you Doug as a youth, where no one really knew him except his family. When he was four, Glen was born. Of course, he became Bucko to all the relatives after that. When we brought this baby home from the hospital, Doug was waiting at the door. He had his favorite little truck in his hand and wanted to give it to his new brother as a present. When Glen wouldn’t take it, Doug asked us why Glen didn’t like his truck. We had to explain the Glen was just too little and would love Doug’s present in a few months. Doug was a giving person at four years old.
Doug was born while I was in the Army, and when I finally was discharged, he was two years old. This was when the humor in his life was instilled. For fun, I taught Doug so say certain things on cue. One of them was “How are you feeling Doug?” He would answer in a very low voice, “mighty low.” Of course, everyone asked him that when they saw him. Then I taught him to answer the phrase, “Doug, what does Popeye say?” And he would answer “toot, toot.” Another favorite question to be asked.
When he was eight, Julie was six, and Glen was four, I decided to teach them respect for their elders. So before they could sit down for supper, I would line them up and give them the phrase, “Oh Great Master, we welcome you to the supper table.” They had to recite that before they could sit down to eat. Of course, that only lasted a year or two, until they decided that I was not the “Great Master” that I claimed to be and went on strike.
Doug was doing crazy things in youth as he did as an adult. We had a dart set in the furnace room. Unbeknownst to us, one day he was fooling around with the darts, and threw one at a spray can of red paint. Well, the dart punctured the can and red paint came pouring our. Trying to stop it, he wrapped a woolen blanket we used for camping around it. Then he hid the blanket under the stairs. Months later, I went to get the blanket and found it full of dried red paint. At which time Doug confessed what he had done. We also learned that Doug had built a catapult for the darts out of a board and rubber bands. It worked almost too good since he fired a dart toward the neighbor’s house across Mallard Drive. Fortunately, it hit the telephone pole across the street and not the house. I believe the dart is still there near the top of the pole to this day.
When he was very young, Doug took care of his brother and sister, since he was the big brother. One time I took the three of them down to Fields Discount Store, to buy Christmas presents for Joan. Well the three of them saw the toy department and immediately went to look at all the toys. I went off, to look at some hardware. Then I heard an announcement on the loud speaker. “We have three children here are lost. Will the parents come to get them?” There at the desk were three little lost sheep, Doug holding tightly to their hands. Doug, even at six years old, showed the care and compassion that stayed with him all his life, for his family, wife, friends, and fellow workers
How did Doug come to appreciate nature? I may take some credit for that. When he was old enough, I took him hiking. I believe our first trip was to Bigelow Hollow, which ironically, was near his home in later life. He and I went on a two-day camping trip, going past Breakneck Pond as far as Mashapaug Lake at the Massachusetts border. It was a great time for bonding between father and son. After that, the three of us, Doug, Glen, and I, went for a three-day trip on the Application Trail that goes through Western Connecticut. It was a trip, where Doug was at his glory, cooking the meals (mostly macaroni and cheese), and reading the guidebook, telling us where to camp and where the sites of interest were.
I think that was the start of Doug’s love of hiking and his future. He loved nature and found his God in nature and the mountains, and in the beauty that perhaps some indefinable God had given to us sentient beings.
Doug went on after that, to get more involved with camping, hiking, and eventually, mountain climbing. As I was getting older, and not able to keep up to my younger sons, we made two more trips. One to the tri-pyramids in New Hampshire, where I dragged my fanny behind my two boys, over those three high mountains. The other was Doug’s birthday present to me by taking me (and Bucko) to the Gunks over in New York. By then, my two sons were very physically fit and good beer drinkers. Doug was tolerant of my age, and later told me that when he told his friends that his father had hiked the Gunks with him, they stated that their fathers would not even think of doing that.. Of course, that fed my ego. That was a thing that Doug would do.
I wasn’t proud of myself, but I was so proud of Doug, who was compassionate of his old man who had passed his prime. By the way, I survived the trip with a sore body and a hangover.
When people called Joan and I, and gave us our condolences and sorrow that such a great kid had passed from us, I had to reflect on his life. Doug’s life and love was in nature. His God was the mountains, the trees, the growth of flowers, the beautiful bluebirds that Bet cultivated, and the rainbows that showed us a beauty that surrounds us all. His spirit was in a mountaintop, where he and his friends, had strived with unimagined difficulty to reach, and once accomplished, had given them an experience that most people can ever imagine.
For nature had transformed him into a perfect being, who loved life, who loved his work and business associates, who loved his wife and friends, who became a person whom we all strive to be, and who became a son, who two parents and a wife could not be prouder of. We all love you Doug, and will miss you more than life can ever know.
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