I met Doug Garrett last spring, just at his 94th birthday. I had identified Doug as someone The Lake Report readers might like to know more about. I went to visit him at his home, an in-law suite on the lower level of his daughter’s home in Queenston. I wanted his story.
Like many local would-be golfers, I actually met Doug at our historic golf club a few pre-COVID summers ago. I even played a couple of rounds with him in Tuesday’s WOOFS league. He was kind enough not to give me pointers …
Doug was an absolutely consummate golfer. Some likened his swing to a left-handed Ben Hogan. In his 90s, diminutive size kept his drives modest. But around the green, his precision was magical. The last time I played with him, Doug, over 90 years, he shot three over par for nine holes!
Every time I played golf with Doug, I had a story for the 19th hole.
A fourth-generation resident, Doug dedicated three lifetime’s worth of volunteer effort to his town. Twenty years as a volunteer firefighter, 65 years as a local Legion member, including decades as its sergeant-at-arms. Fifty Years as a Mason. Lions Club member. Fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Cancer Society. And on.
In my mind, if you looked at Doug, you saw the beating heart of who we are today as a community.
But that day, last May, in his living room, I felt another side to Doug that I’m sure many others had seen, but I had not.
He had a wonderful sense of humour. And one of the keenest storytelling skills I’ve ever run across. Every answer was punctuated by humorous, tight, meaningful, on-message tales of his 90-plus years. He was so warm and engaging, I didn’t want to leave his company.
“I got to play hockey up to Senior B. For a little kid in Niagara-on-the-Lake, it was pretty good. We were playing a game against the St. Catharines Saints and they had this big guy. I got around him two or three times. He hollered at me: 'You’re not going to get by next time.' When I woke up, I was on the dressing room table looking at the ceiling. That was the end of my hockey.”
We lost Doug last week.
I am reminded of a well-known saying: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
More positively, I’d rather: “If we learn from Doug Garrett, we will raise a better community.”