Douglas P. Weaver Jr.

September 07, 2013|By JANET HEIM |
  • This photo of a father-son trip out west to see Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and the Grand Canyon was taken in 2005. Pictured, from left, are Douglas P. Weaver III, Douglas P. Weaver Jr. and Kim Weaver. The photo was taken toward the end of the trip at the Grand Canyon.
Submitted photo

A typical West End childhood, a love for sports and the outdoors, a memorable World War II experience with the U.S. Navy, a long career as a cabinetmaker and family were the things that mattered most to Douglas P. “Doug” Weaver Jr.

Born and raised in Hagerstown, Doug was one of five children, four of them boys. He would have graduated from Hagerstown High School with the class of 1944.

Instead, Doug went into the service in July 1943 and had to miss his senior year of high school.

In November 2001, Doug was one of about 10 veterans to be awarded their high school diplomas from Washington County Public Schools decades later in a graduation ceremony complete with caps and gowns, wife Cleo Weaver said.

Doug was given a choice of joining the U.S. Army or U.S. Navy. He chose the Navy because he wanted to be an aerial gunner. Three years in the Navy took him to six continents across more than 50,000 miles.

“That’s all he talked about. It seemed the older he got, he talked about it constantly,” said youngest son Kim Weaver of Hagerstown. “They were some of the best times of his life. They were everywhere. He was uprooted like that, from the West End. The next thing he knew, he was on six continents.”

The Weaver family was a close-knit group, and Kim remembers as a child going to Luray Caverns for “big Weaver reunions,” since Doug’s family was from the Berryville/White Post area in Virginia.

Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Doug returned to Hagerstown and began a 43-year career as a cabinetmaker with Hagerstown Lumber Co.

“He was a genius. He was self-taught,” Kim said. “He always got an ‘A’ in woodworking in school, so it was his gift.”

“He built me two houses,” Cleo said of the homes that Doug built on Mountain View Circle in Halfway and Cool Hollow Road. They moved to South Pointe about 15 years ago, wanting to have less property to maintain.

“You name it, he built it,” Kim said, from a grandfather clock and mantel clock, curio cabinet and dry sink to youth beds and dressers for the boys.

It was a blind double date in 1950 that paired up Doug and Cleo Brunner. The other couple never had met either, but Cleo was friends with the woman.

“They always say they called Doug because he had a car,” Cleo said.

They went to a movie, and both couples ended up getting married.

“I was seven years younger than him,” said Cleo, who grew up in Chewsville. “I used to kid him I was in elementary school when he was in the service.”

Doug and Cleo were married Sept. 15, 1950, six months after their first date and a little more than a year after Cleo graduated from high school. The couple eloped to Frederick, Md., and stopped at the first parsonage they found.

Only their mothers knew about their plans, Cleo said. There are no wedding pictures, but Cleo still has the navy blue suit she wore for the wedding, tucked away in a cedar chest. Doug died just weeks before their 63rd anniversary.

A honeymoon was out of the question, with Doug making $25 per week, Cleo said. Instead, they traveled to New York City for one of their early anniversaries.

Son Douglas P. Weaver III, who lives in Alexandria, Va., was born in 1952, followed by Kim, 15 months to the date of his brother’s birth. There now are five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Weavers made up for missing a honeymoon later on, with many camping trips with their sons. Cowans Gap in Pennsylvania was a favorite camping spot.

Their first camping trip was with another family to the Smoky Mountains. They pulled into the campground at night, and in the dark, unknowingly set up their tent in a dry creek bed.

It poured that night, and they woke up to their tent filling up with water.

“It was comical,” Kim said. “We have a lot of good memories.”

For about 45 years, the Weavers traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., twice a year, staying in the same Mom & Pop motel. They often went in March and October, and were planning to go this fall.

The first three months of the year were spent in Florida the past six years. Then, there were the trips, including some bus trips, to New England and out west to see the Mall of America, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands.

In 2005, Doug and his sons flew to Las Vegas to tour “the canyons” — Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon.

“That was the best trip. Just the three of us,” Kim said. “We had a wonderful time. It was the best trip I ever had.”

In addition to being longtime Hagerstown Suns ticket holders and fans of the Washington Nationals and Washington Redskins, Doug was an athlete himself. As a youth, he was a ball boy with the Hagerstown Owls, and played baseball and football in high school.

From 1946 to 1950, Doug played with the Hagerstown Marketeers, a semiprofessional football team. Cleo said he played one season after they were married and she got to see a game, but she didn’t know anything about football back then.

During his football career, Doug suffered a broken collarbone, nose and ankle and decided to give it up because he couldn’t afford to be off work with a wife to support.

Cleo stayed home to raise their sons. Doug coached his sons’ baseball teams, helped with Scouts, and the couple cheered on their sons in their athletic endeavors.

“He used to attend all our sporting events,” Kim said. “He was always involved with us kids, whatever we did.”

When Kim became Scoutmaster of Troop 142 in Hagerstown, Doug helped out. That included a whitewater rafting trip on the New River in West Virginia when Doug was in his 70s that landed him in the river.

There also was “horseback riding, all the camping trips” and cycling the entire Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in sections.

“You couldn’t hold him down,” Kim said. “He loved the outdoors.”

Doug was a lifetime member of the Funkstown American Legion, and he “did a lot of work over there,” from mowing to fixing things, Kim said. He also traveled to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., regularly to help with bingo, cook for an annual summer barbecue or take loads of scrap wood for the disabled veterans to use for wood projects.

Despite surviving a heart attack, Doug was in fairly good health. He quit smoking 45 years ago, but developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, then congestive heart failure.

“He wouldn’t give up,” Kim said. “He kept moving. You couldn’t keep him down. Every day, he wanted to run. It hurt him when we had to take his license.”

Doug loved fruit, and when he was out for a drive, he often would return with a fresh supply of fruit from Save-a-Lot or Food Lion, his favorite fruit sources.

He also loved watching birds, especially the yellow finches and hummingbirds that would come to the feeder in their backyard. Cleo chokes up recalling that the baby birds went away the day her husband died.

Kim said as a father, Doug was “perfect, super. He was always there, always supportive. He’d do anything for you. He was so kind, so gentle. They just don’t come any better.”

“His body just wore out,” Kim said. “I never seen such a fighter in my life.”

Doug would land in the hospital, and last summer, the family thought they would lose him.

“He’d come out — like a cat with nine lives — he’d come out stronger,” Kim said.

His death still took the family by surprise, as he kept pushing forward and making plans. Doug loved the homestyle meals his wife cooked for him, especially her chicken-corn soup, made Amish-style with hard-cooked eggs.

Cleo had everything ready to make a batch for him, but he died before she got it made.

Doug went on his own terms, not wanting to end up in a nursing home or suffering.

Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Douglas P. Weaver Jr., who died Aug. 26 at the age of 88. His obituary was published in the Aug. 28 edition of The Herald-Mail.

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