Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Old Friend Gone

In the fall of 1964, we gained a new classmate in Mr. Onufer's homeroom (and subsequent Latin classes across the street). He hailed from up North, and his accent was thick of New Hampshire and Vermont and in his leisure, he wore a Bates College sweatshirt. He was bashful, and like all shy people, he tended to overcompensate a little when given the opportunity. I think as a result he was often either overlooked or bullied. He nonetheless persisted. He ended up as our Smoke Signals photographer, and over our high school years, he and I ended up as friends, despite our differences.

This afternoon, I received an email from Rick Sasse, who couldn't exactly remember if Doug Fowler was part of our 7-3/8-4 Anthony Wayne experience, but I was pretty certain that Doug missed out on all that but did share much of what followed. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Rick is right. This is the sort of thing that happens more frequently nowadays. I remember something from back then, and then self doubt asks me if I actually remember that or am I simply remembering the fantasy that I constructed for myself the last time I tried to remember the same series of events.

I do remember speaking to Doug in Nashua NH, as he related the highlights of his life, in which service stations played a major part. In view of my checkered past, I remember listening without judgement, as Doug tried to justify his history and I do distinctly remember telling him that I long ago gave up all judgement about roads not taken, and opportunities missed or life choices that didn't quite work out as we hoped they would. At our way point on the crooked road of life, it long ago stopped mattering; with that ice broken, he regaled me with memories of silly things that we did in gym together and other better times we had. In short, it was another chapter of my search for classmates 5 years ago and another checkmark on my master list of WV grads. It engendered another afternoon of serious soul searching and nostalgic wonderment about how things turned out for another friend with whom I had lost touch.

Here is Doug Fowler's obit for those of you who read this type of thing and think of all that we have done and what we will leave behind:

Douglas H. Fowler, 64, longtime resident of Nashua, died at the Community Hospice House in Merrimack on April 12, 2014, surrounded by members of his loving and devoted family.

Mr. Fowler was born on October 21, 1949, in Massachusetts. He was a son of Patricia (Smith) Fowler of St. Petersburg, FL and the late Donald H. Fowler.

He was the husband of Rosa (Gomes) Fowler, they shared over 12 years of marriage.

Most recently, he had been working with tech support for Comcast. For many years, he was a regional manager for several service stations including Circle K and Shell.

He is remembered as a gentleman who worked hard all his life. He also enjoyed reading. Mr. Fowler loved to challenge his mind with brain games and teasers such as Sudoku. He enjoyed music and dancing.

Mr. Fowler was a veteran of the United States Air Force, having entered after graduating high school, had achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant during his enlistment. His Air Force career brought him all around the world and gave him many life experiences, including a chance to run with the bulls in Spain.

Mr. Fowler cared deeply for his community and was a Master Mason of Lee Lodge No. 30 in Castleton, VT. He was a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies in the Valley of Burlington and the Vermont Consistory 32nd Degree and the Cairo Shriners of Rutland, VT. He was also a member of The American Legion of West Rutland, VT.

SERVICES: A Masonic Funeral Service in his honor will be conducted by the Officers and Members of Ancient York Lodge #89, Nashua at the Masonic Temple, 200 A Main St. (elevator entrance) Nashua on Thursday evening, April 17, 2014 at 6:30 PM. His interment prayers and burial service will be held at a later date in Barre, Vermont at the request of the family.

So farewell, Doug. I'll remember you sitting in the corner of the Smoke Signals office cracking inappropriate jokes and trying to get someone to play chess with you. I'm glad I got a chance to catch up with him before the end.

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