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Dugan recalled as 'gentleman'

October 08, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If one word must be used to sum up Harry Dugan, 73, a former West Virginia state senator who died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, it might be gentleman.

"I think he was a true gentleman, a public servant. Everybody who worked with him ... the first words out of their mouths were he was a gentleman," said State Sen. John Unger, who defeated Dugan in 1998.

Unger said members of both the Republican and Democratic parties respected Dugan, who Unger said brought civility to the office. Dugan, a Republican, served as a state senator from 1994 to 1998.

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"I think he had the people's best interests at heart," Unger said. "I believe he tried to serve to the best of his ability."

Dugan's wife, Sharon, said her husband worked toward fixing other people's problems, no matter how large or small.

"He always thought of others. He put everybody before himself," she said.

Dugan was diagnosed with kidney cancer 11 years ago. After his kidney was removed, it was believed the cancer was gone, she said.

When the cancer returned around five years ago in both of Dugan's lungs, doctors gave him months to live, his wife said.

She said he was a determined man, driving back to their home with his wife from Myrtle Beach, S.C., in a camper, even after doctors told him to fly home because he was too ill.

The couple were married in June 1993.

Dale Manuel, who served with Dugan in the state Legislature, echoed Unger's assessment.

"I guess I would characterize him as a real gentleman," said Manuel.

He said Dugan was mild-mannered, fun to talk to and not one to let politics overwhelm him.

"When we had differences, he was always polite and courteous about them," Manuel said.

Former Del. Vicki Douglas said Dugan was especially interested in projects that benefited the health and welfare of children, local recreation issues, the Berkeley County Youth Fair and the Belle Boyd House, a museum in Martinsburg.

He also supported historic preservation issues, she said.

"I think he really enjoyed being in the Senate and he was very easy to work with," she said.

Recently, at Unger's request, Dugan received a proclamation honoring him for his service to the Senate and his commitment to the constituents of the 16th District.

Unger said he is drafting language for a memorial proclamation to be read when the Legislature reconvenes for its regular session next year.

"Even when I ran against him I wasn't running against Harry Dugan. I was running to serve the public," Unger said. "The thing that I think Harry brought to the political process was a civility that I think we're losing."

When he worked with Mother Theresa in 1991, Unger said he learned a lesson from her: God doesn't call on us to do great things, but He calls on us to do small things with great love.

That principle could be used to define Dugan, he said.

"One could say he did small things with great love," Unger said.

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