Husband, father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, TV antenna salesman, character. Born May 21, 1928, in Owen Sound, Ont., died April 7, 2012, in Stratford, Ont., of dementia, aged 83.
With his passion for boating, cars, motorcycles, fishing and snowmobiling, it could be said that “Hark” was a man’s man. But it was with the women of his life that he was most authentic.
He loved his wife, cared for his mother, adored his sister and doted on three daughters and four granddaughters. To the latter he was a father figure, too. He taught them all how to drive.
Remembering his sense of humour evokes reflective smiles and appreciative nods from those hearing his name.
Last summer at a family gathering, far into dementia, Doug was found by his son-in-law rummaging through cases of empty beer bottles.
“Here I am, in a house with six women, seven dogs, two cats, and not one beer to be found!” Doug lamented.
During 1952 in Kitchener, Doug, his wife and other staff from Joe Miller TV would gather at the store Sunday evenings to watch television.
The store was the precursor to Harker’s TV Antenna Service.
Though he started the business without money, Doug was generous – especially to customers who needed a leg up. He set premium prices for those who could afford it, and gave deep discounts to those who could not. A variant of Robin Hood, he couldn’t imagine anyone without a TV.
Known as the “Antenna Man,” he travelled throughout the towns and countryside of Grey Bruce Counties.
The work van was painted with his caricature waving from an aerial pole wearing a windblown scarf.
Growing up in Owen Sound, Doug had a bond with his grandfather, A.J. Frost. Cars infatuated A.J. (arguably he built the first in Canada), and he designed several boats in which Doug grew to love Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.
Doug could get himself into trouble. He was 13 when he heard that war had been declared on Japan. He ran into the house to tell his mother and a visiting friend. He had to come clean when his mother asked how he knew. He had been listening to the visitor’s car radio while siphoning gas out of his car.
Doug was voracious for world war history and respectful of Canadian veterans. His father, a career army captain, was injured in London buzz bombing and died in 1945. In 1947, at 17, Doug joined the navy and served for four years. He kept his navy-issue pea jacket.
His favourite colour was blue. He wore sunglasses on dark days. He drank rum from a glass labelled “Captain.” Johnny Cash played on an eight-track while he drove to the beach in his MG convertible. He would often say, reciting from the poem Sea Fever, “I must go down to the seas again.”
His soulmate was his wife, Patricia.
“The blond, blue-eyed free spirit with the motorcycle was wild and exciting to me, as a young woman right off the farm,” she said.
She recalls their dancing dates under the stars at Sauble Beach Pavilion amid a happy and complete life.
Doug found adventure and fun in life, even in everyday routines, and left lasting memories for family, friends and acquaintances.
Kathy Harker is Doug’s daughter.