Anyone that knows me, either knows Doug, or has heard me speak of him. And anyone that knows Douglas has at one time or another, heard him tell the story of how he first lay eyes on me, me being a high school Senior, and he beginning his first year as a teacher. A trial by fire if there ever was one, but Douglas came through it just a little scorched around the edges, and I came away with the best part of the deal, Doug’s lifelong friendship.
But the story you never hear, and I’m not even sure Douglas knows this himself, is the first time he saw me isn’t the first time I saw him. Several years before, my father worked as a repairman fixing home appliances, mostly electric wall heaters, and sometimes I would go with him to the customer’s house to pick up or install the heater. So one day we went to the Clark Smith residence, and there sleeping on the couch was my friend Douglas. Of course I didn’t know him at the time, but I did notice the small amount of drool trickling down his rotund little cheek, and I later made the connection.
It’s funny how life puts people together sometimes. I never dreamed at the time that young man with cheek o’ drool would one day be my teacher, acting coach, and lifelong best friend, but I am a better person today because of it.
I think I’m underestimating when I say Douglas has touched thousands, more likely tens of thousands of lives. Douglas is fond of explaining his reason for becoming a teacher; if he was an actor he would touch so many lives, but being a teacher he would affect those plus the ones they touch, and so on and so on. Brother, ain’t that the truth.
So Douglas, I wish you all the best as you begin your retirement, which in your case probably just means you’ll stop getting paid; I can’t imagine you’ll stop being involved with the theater in some capacity. And I also like to believe there’s another Doug Smith starting to teach this year, perhaps one that you taught yourself, that will carry the torch that you did so well.
I love you my friend.