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Petaluma loses one of its sports family

Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.

Look up family man in a dictionary and you will find Wayne Douglas listed as a synonym.

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Wayne Douglas

Wayne E. Douglas died unexpectedly on Jan. 5. He was 51 years old. He leaves a loving wife, four cherished sons and a town full of friends.

Douglas was a lifelong Petaluman, born and raised in the city that he loved. He was educated in Petaluma schools and remained in the community to marry his wife of 23 years, Laura. Together they had four sons — Ryan, Dean, Logan and Shane — who inherited their father's athleticism and are the focus of their parents' lives.

Douglas was a standout athlete at Petaluma High School. Petaluma track coach Doug Johnson remembers Douglas the sprinter from the early '80s. “He was a great kid and a great leader,” the coach recalled. “He was a tremendous competitor, and he passed that competitive spirit along to his kids.” Oldest son, Ryan, was a league champion distance runner for Johnson, who was good enough on both track and in the classroom to earn admission to Yale.

Douglas worked for KVAL Machinery for more than 30 years as service manager for the company that manufactures computer-controlled custom equipment for commercial and residential specialty doors.

He liked working around his Petaluma home. “He loved doing projects,” Laura said. “He enjoyed hard work.”

He was also an avid camper. “Camping was his favorite past time,” his wife said. “Casini Ranch was our favorite place. Before the boys got into sports, we would go every other weekend.”

But, Douglas' real love and passion were his sons.

“They meant the world to him,” Laura said. “Nothing was more important to him than his boys.”

All four boys played Little League baseball for the Petaluma National Little League, and Douglas was right there with each of them, not just attending games, but serving on the board of directors and constantly working on the league fields.

People who worked with him recall that, not only was he a dedicated worker himself, he was an excellent coordinator. “He had a way of getting things done,” his wife said.

Former Petaluma National Little League President Troy Sanderson said Douglas' contribution to the Petaluma National Little League and the community went well beyond the much-appreciated effort he put into the program.

“Wayne was the man you hope your son grows up to become,” Sanderson said. “A kind, honest, generous, hardworking family man who cared deeply about his friends and his community. He inspired by quiet example while accepting no credit for the profound positive impact that he had on all of those around him. He will always be a role model in every sense of the term.”

Laura said two of the most memorable happenings of her husband's life were Ryan's admission to Yale and Logan's journey with the Petaluma National Little League All-Star team to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.

But he was proud of all of his sons and took an active interest in all their sports, whether it was Ryan's running, Dean's basketball or Logan and Shane's baseball. Not that the boys confined their activities to any one sport. They all played multiple sports, something that kept their parents hopping as they tried to coordinate work, sports schedules and a family life.

“Everything we did revolved around their sports schedules,” Laura explained.

And, Douglas loved every minute of it. In fact, according to family and friends, he loved life.

“He was super funny,” Laura said.

“His whole family has the best sense of humor ever.”

“Just as he loved people, he was loved by people,” said Colton Irving, pastor of the 360 Church of Petaluma where Douglas attended church and was a member of the Men's Fraternity.

An outpouring of that love can be seen on Douglas' Facebook Page.

Wrote friend Kevin McCallum: “Not just an empty expression or exaggeration to say perhaps the nicest and genuinely kindest man I've ever met. And I think everything you need to know about him is reflected in what impressive and exceptional young men his sons are.”

Douglas was the brother of David (Pamela) Douglas of Santa Rosa, Tammy (Chris) Immer of Washington, Bethany (Paul) Schwappachy of San Diego, Tom (Samantha) Young of Sonoma, Russell (Bob Needham) Young of Santa Rosa and David (Audrey) Young of Vallejo. He was the son of Sharon and Charles Young of Petaluma and the late Roland Douglas and the grandson of Ellarene and Ben Young of Novato.

He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

“A Celebration of Life,” will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. at the 360 Church of Petaluma, 879 Lindberg Lane.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to www.youcaring.com/waynedouglasmemorialfund.

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