Husband, father, grandfather, proud Townshipper. Born on June 16, 1942, in Magog, Que.; died on Feb. 14, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., of sudden cardiac arrest, aged 71.
Our Dad was a man of many enthusiasms. Most were simple – his family, the cottage, a well-worn story, vacuuming – but all were profound to him. He was an optimist, always looking for the bright side of things and the good in others. Like most people, he encountered challenges in his life. But once something was behind him, he only looked for the silver lining.
When he was 27, he survived a small-plane crash that killed his friend, the pilot. Dad suffered a broken back, pulverized femur and a smashed ankle, and the doctors weren’t sure he would be able to walk again. He not only walked again, he thrived. After a convalescence spent partly in a hospital bed in our living room – a draw for the neighbourhood kids – he went back to his active lifestyle, teaching his three young daughters to ski, play tennis, ride bikes. He didn’t talk much about the crash experience, and he continued to fly – although he would often say small planes weren’t his preference.
Dad met the love of his life early. He worked summers at the pulp-and-paper mill in Windsor Mills, Que., managed by Kay Philip`s father. He was 17, Kay was 16 and that was it for both of them. They married soon after he graduated from Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, in business administration. He was the first in his family to go to university, and the first to move out of the Eastern Townships to the big city (Montreal). In the more than 50 years they were together, Dad never stopped saying Mom was the most beautiful woman in the world.
Dad was a sales and marketing executive, and a favourite family joke was that he worked for companies that made products he had no idea how to use: food (he couldn’t cook and had a decided aversion to fresh vegetables), tools (he was a terrible handyman, not that it deterred him from “building” many ramshackle creations), and sewing machines (not a chance). But Dad knew and liked people. He could talk to anyone about anything, and did.
Mess put him in a bad mood. He could get huffy if things weren’t done his way: cleaning, vacuuming, dishwasher loading, folding the newspaper in the proper order, regularly taking out the recycling … the list was long. But he was a good sport about the teasing he took for his neat-freak ways and repetitive story telling. Once he coined a phrase, he used it over and over again (for years!) with as much delight and relish as the first time.
The cottage at Trouser Lake in Quebec’s Eastern Townships was not only an important link to his past, it was where he was happiest, surrounded by family. This was where he and his five cherished grandchildren developed their bonds, where he held court from the dock, where he welcomed extended family and friends with pride.
Dad died too early, but he died a happy man. He was on holiday in Florida with Mom and their dear friends in what had become a regular winter getaway. His corneas were donated and we like to think that at least one other person is seeing the world through his eyes: a place filled with enthusiasm and love.
Alison, Sandra and Jennifer Holt are Doug’s daughters.