Doug actually passed away on New Year's Eve, 2011, so this notice is a bit late. Another member of Swaylock's said he would post but, well, finally admitted it was just too depressing so I thought I would take up the challenge.
Doug was among the "great invasion" of surfers to the Outer Banks in the early- and mid-seventies, people who moved there to live and surf. Like a lot of guys (including me) he worked construction, waited tables, and did odd jobs to pay the rent on run-down places suitable only for surfers and other lowlifes. Nags Head in those days was a six-month-a-year town, populated in the winter only by hard-core fishermen, surfers and a sizable artist community. The natives, being smarter, lived over in Manteo or Powells Point. For the priviledge of living on the water we put up with non-insulated houses heated (barely) with kerosene heaters and frozen pipes. And since it was a small community, we all knew each other. If you fell on hard times, you might come home to find a couple sea bass in a basket by your door, or guys like Doug would come over and help put plastic over those leaky oceanside windows, or install an illegal wood stove. He might also slip you a film canister of weed. His house was always open to weekend visitors and he always had a beer ready for a friend.
He was one of those guys who was always around. You'd run into him in Griggs Lumber, or see him in the line-up on his ancient Aipa. You'd be having a drink at the Jolly Roger and he'd be at the end of the bar telling a tall tale about some tuna he'd caught. His greeting was always the same: "Hey man, what's up?"
The Outer Banks in those days were still pretty primitive - no cops except Highway Patrolmen and no fire protection. Doug worked to establish a "citizen's patrol" that kept the housebreakers and violent assholes under control, and let the pot smokers off with a warning to be cool in public. He was one of the original volunteer firemen on the Banks and only left that department after 20 years when it went "professional" and he couldn't afford the certification. Like a lot of the original crowd, he worked hard to make it a better place to live and then found himself marginalized when the big money moved in. Houses that previously rented for a couple hundred dollars a month suddenly were renting for several thousand dollars, and taxes skyrocketed to the point where a lot of guys have moved away to cheaper enviroments. The construction industry collapsed, along with it Doug's roofing business. He went back to waiting tables at age 56.
But he was cheerful about it. "Hell, I'm making cash and meeting women, just like in the old days," he told me. "My house is paid for and all I need to do is cover utilities, food, and taxes. And surfing is always free." Doug got up on New Year's Day and while walking from his bedroom to the kitchen, dropped dead of a massive stroke. He was cremated but we had to wait until April to hold a paddle-out for him due to storms disrupting every schedule we set up. But he was released into the Gulf Stream to continue his journey. RIP, brother.