Robert “Bob” William Douglas, passed away on Monday February 22, 2021 at Adirondack Medical Center at age 84. He is, and always will be deeply loved and missed by family and friends. Bob was a devoted family man ~ father, husband, grandfather, uncle, and great-grandfather. To say he was quiet and reserved might be an understatement, but still water truly runs deep.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert William Douglas, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Bob was born August 29, 1936 to Robert F. Douglas and Eugenia (Lytle) Douglas at Saranac Lake General Hospital. Bob and his sister MaryAnne (commonly called Anne) enjoyed life in Saranac Lake as youngsters and headed to St. Bernard’s Catholic School for their elementary school education.
Bob completed 8th grade at St. Bernard’s in 1950 and graduated from Saranac Lake High School in 1954. He played basketball for the high school in the old Northern League under the leadership of “new” Coach Bill Gallagher. The Saranac Lake High School team was led on the court by names locals will recognize even today ~ Ken Hoyt, John Kains, John Pickreign and Jerome Branch among many others. Bob also played outfield for the Redskins on the baseball diamond.
Not long after high school, Bob enlisted into the Navy, where he spent most of his time on the Pacific. He became an Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class on 16 November 1956, and then Electrician’s Mate, 2nd Class on 1 December 1957.
Bob’s active duty in the Navy concluded in early 1959 in the Great Lakes, which was rather fortuitous. Bob met Louise Ann (known as Lou Ann) Wopat in Milwaukee as his service to the nation was ending. Bob and Lou Ann were married in her hometown of Hillsboro, Wisconsin on October 17, 1959. Subsequently, they moved to Saranac Lake in 1961 and have remained here ever since.
Robert began working for the Paul Smiths Electric Company in 1961, which later merged with the Niagara Mohawk Power Company in 1966. He retired from Niagara Mohawk in 1994, working 33 years as a lineman. Bob quietly took great pride in working to restore electrical power to the surrounding communities through a myriad of environmental conditions. As a dedicated employee, he likely served more trouble call-outs than most linemen, much to the chagrin of his immediate family.
A Prayer for Linemen
We come to you with grateful hearts for those
Who are dedicated to serving their fellow man.
To those who show their love for you
By risking their lives to do whatever they can.
A lineman is taken for granted until a
Convenience we must do without.
They work until the job is done,
Of this there’s never a doubt.
Please, Dear Lord, watch over them and protect
Then with Your Almighty Hand.
Return them to their homes with blessing for their families
And help them to understand
That a lineman’s time is not his own
And a schedule not one he chose for the day,
But a service that you have instilled in him
As you guide him in your kind and loving way.
Aaron Burnett – Bayside Electric
Bob enjoyed woodworking and developed a special gift for turning driftwood into furniture. Each of his five children received a massive hand-crafted driftwood coffee table, each with origins as a saturated conifer root system. Bob took painstaking effort to extricate the table from the many gnarled roots, deciding which would remain and which would go. His efforts began with a chainsaw, and then worked with more refined power tools and hand tools to create these pieces of art. This was followed by hours of hand sanding before several coats of polyurethane was applied to the finished work. He created dozens of driftwood lamps, as he enjoyed seeing the curves and intricate designs in the natural wood come to life under his watchful eyes.
Bob sold quality hardwood firewood for years to area residents, which he cut after a long day of work on the electrical lines, using a splitting maul and hand stacking it in the back of his pickup truck and delivering it to his customers. He shunned the notion of a mechanized wood splitter and never used a dump truck or conveyor to lighten the workload.
Bob took a special interest in stonework, creating interior stonewalls in his family’s long-time home on Margaret Street in Saranac Lake as well as stone wall terracing in the backyard to create both a patio and garden.
After selling their Margaret Street home, they moved to Mount Pisgah Lane, where he continued his stone masonry work on this property. There is also a stone wall he designed and completed in the basement of this home as well.
It has been rumored that he raised a couple of pigs in the age-old barn behind their Margaret Street home along with a couple dozen chickens. It was thought that he used the manure from the livestock to supplement the soil in his abundant garden behind the home.
Bob served his church and community as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a 3rd Degree member of Council #599, Knights of Columbus in Saranac Lake, NY.
While in the US Navy, Bob took an interest in playing the guitar and became quite skilled at the instrument while at sea in the Pacific. He continued to play the guitar, and also picked up the harmonica. Once he mastered playing the harmonica and guitar at the same time then he bought
a used bass drum and on rare occasions he would pull out his one-man band to amuse his friends and family alike.
Bob enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren most of all. He devoted his time
to creating things for each of his children as they grew up. His woodcrafts can be found in each
of their homes and will be cherished forever.
When the kids were younger, the family they would load up the Jeep and head to Onchiota for a
blueberry or raspberry picking adventure. He would seek out the backwoods streams to catch
some wild trout on a Sunday afternoon. Bob enjoyed tending to the backyard garden and
showing off his recent harvest in the summer months, taking care of his yard, and
manning the grill on weekends. While he might complain of the deer which could be seen
bounding through the backyard at dusk, and the woodchuck burrowing under the deck, it seems
he delighted in knowing they were there, sharing in his bounty. Lou Ann might recall a couple
adventures in hauling a woodchuck off to a new home beyond Bloomingdale, and no doubt
these rodents set up residence in someone else’s yard.
Bob’s mom Eugenia (Lytle) Douglas died in 1939, and Robert F. Douglas later married Ann Gorton Farrell in 1943 at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid.
Robert F. Douglas died in 1967, while Ann (Gorton Farrell) Douglas died in 1977. Bob Douglas had a stepbrother, Peter Farrell, married to Doris Gladd in 1946 at St. Bernard’s Church. Peter Farrell and Doris (Gladd) Farrell raised their family in Tupper Lake. Doris died in September 1999, while her beloved husband Peter passed away soon after in February 2000.
Bob’s sister Anne married John Pohl and they raised their family in New Jersey. Anne and John would annually return to the Adirondacks with their children who fell in love with these family adventures. Fishing with Uncle Bob and listening to his music and stories are among their favorite memories. Anne passed away in 1994, while her husband John died in 1999.
Bob Douglas is survived by his wife, Lou Ann (Wopat) Douglas of Saranac Lake, and their five
children. Four daughters include: Michele (James) Tucker of Gabriels, Melanie (William)
Brainerd of Cambridge, NY, Heidi (Steve) Fanning of Jamesville, NY, and Kathy (Chip)
Samperi of Saranac Lake, and one son, Robert P (Ann) Douglas of Clay, NY.
Bob is survived by 13 grandchildren: Lawrence (Margot) Tucker of Whiting, VT, Michael
(Arielle) Tucker of Starnsberg, Germany, Nicholas Brainerd of Saranac Lake, Lyndsey Brainerd
of St. Louis, MO, Shannon Brainerd of Cambridge, NY, Robert Fanning of Denver, CO,
Ryan Fanning of Rochester, NY; Morgan Douglas of Clay, NY, McKenzie Douglas of Cicero,
NY, Madison Douglas of Tonawanda, NY, and Sarah, Katie and Anthony Samperi all of Saranac
Lake, NY. He is survived by three great-great grandchildren: Hazel Lou Tucker of Whiting, VT
and Eleanor and Theo Tucker of Starnsberg, Germany.
Several nieces and nephews also survive.
Funeral arrangements are in the care of the Fortune – Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a private wake will be held for the family on Friday,
February 26th at the funeral home.
A public funeral will be held at 11:00 on Saturday, February 27th at St. Bernard’s Church in
Saranac Lake. For those unable to attend the funeral, Fortune-Keough Funeral Home will
webcast the funeral on their Facebook page. A public gravesite service will take place in St.
Bernard’s Cemetery in Saranac Lake in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests those who wish to remember Bob ~ please have the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass offered for his soul and the souls of the deceased members of the Douglas,
Wopat, Pohl, and the Farrell families.