Remembering Doug . . .

Together today, we celebrate the life of one of the most caring and compassionate people most of us will ever know. And we thank Doug and we honor him, for his lifetime legacy of honesty, dedication, loyalty, and kindness. For my part, I will most of all remember his extraordinary selflessness.

Doug was a devoted husband, father, brother… grandfather, father-in-law, and uncle. Or, he was our very dear colleague, our old friend, our best friend, or maybe, our new friend… And every one of us knows how special Doug was.

First of all for me, Doug was my Tufts fraternity brother, 48 years ago. He was the quiet guy everybody liked. He graduated from high school, by the way, at age 16, and from Tufts, when he was only 20 years old.

Later, almost every weekday for the last 38 years, Doug was my work colleague and very close friend. Most recently, he was executive vice president of an organization, where 460 staff at all levels simply adored him.

I remember August 28, 1966, the day we first started working together, except that I wasn't around that week. Doug joined Old Medford Foods as its treasurer two days after the Company first moved to Woburn, and one day after Joyce and I left the country on our honeymoon!

Doug started signing the Company's checks that day, and hundreds of thousands of checks later, Doug's was the only signature the bank ever knew. He was so grateful when electronic fund transfers finally came along, instead of all those payroll checks every other Wednesday morning.

Several years ago, I happened to sign a few checks, when Doug was out on vacation. Every single one of them was returned by the bank, because they were not written by Doug!

Married 44 years ago, Doug and Carrol were devoted, first to each other, and then to their wonderful, growing family. And think for a minute about what Carrol told me in April . . . In all those decades, she said, she and Doug never had an argument! Never even once in all that time!

I think that most of us guys eventually get the message that it doesn't pay to argue with our wives . . . But just think how smart Doug was . . . He must have know that, even before he was married!

Doug did not wear his Christian beliefs in a public manner, but he lived them every day. And, like Doug, many of us believe that death is a doorway to our eternal home. Life has changed, but it has not been taken away.

Most of us also believe that Doug lives on in an eternal world, more beautiful than we can even imagine. And we share a faith in Doug's real and continued presence among us.

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, last year wrote The Lord is my Shepherd, a book about the 23rd Psalm. In it, he reflects on the meaning of "the shadow of death,." And he compares dying to going through a dark tunnel. "There has never been a tunnel so long that it did not ultimately emerge into daylight," he wrote, "or a night so dark that it did not ultimately yield to the dawn."

Where Doug's parting has left huge voids, fill those voids with remembrances of his friendship and his love. For it will truly be by thinking about him, and talking about him often, that we will keep him alive.

Doug was someone who was never "down." He brought his sense of humor and cheery personality with him always, it seemed, even deep into his terrible illness. How many people ever saw Doug not look to see everything in its best possible light?

Certainly Doug worked tirelessly for Cummings Properties, and he worked hard, as well, for both of the New Horizons communities. But then, for the last 10 or 15 years, he went home to work tirelessly with Carrol for Supportive Living, Inc.

Warren House in Woburn and Bernard McLaughlin House in North Reading are marvelous testimonies to how two dedicated leaders have radically changed the lives of dozens of survivors of traumatic brain injuries. The opportunities offered at both of the existing SLI facilities, plus at least one more home under construction in Lexington, are an incredible attestation to the great good Doug and Carrol have brought.

No mere words of sympathy will ease the pain of Doug's loss, but the huge void itself will preserve our respective bonds with Doug, as we keep his memory alive.

We pay tribute here to Doug this day, as we shall in our hearts for the many tomorrows. We thank you for your love, Doug, and thank you for being such an important part in all our lives.

 

- Bill Cummings
May 20, 2004