Every Saturday morning without fail, Douglas Fry would come to The History Museum of Hood River County, put on a pot of coffee, sit at the front desk, and wait to greet museum guests with a smile.
Sadly, the next time the museum is open during weekend hours, Doug won’t be there.
Doug, a Hood River resident who had been an avid volunteer at the museum for the past five years, passed away on Aug. 23 while hiking near Ecola Falls in the Columbia Gorge (see his obituary on page A6). He was 63 years old.
Museum Director Connie Nice said museum volunteers and board members are still reeling from the loss and Doug’s presence at the museum will be greatly missed.
“Every Saturday morning Doug Fry worked at the museum,” she said. “It’s left a huge hole in our hearts. Doug loved this museum and was so dedicated to volunteer efforts.”
Before he served at the museum, Doug served his country as a medic in the U.S. Army. He first began serving in 1969 in Vietnam when he was in his late teens. Doug also served in the Persian Gulf War and in Bosnia before retiring from the Army Reserve with the rank of Master Sergeant in 2010. He kept busy after retiring from the service and made himself available for volunteering at a number of museum events, including Cemetery Tales, where he was in charge of lighting the luminaries along the pathways of Idlewilde Cemetery.
Museum board member Dottie Gilbertson remembered Doug as a man of many talents who “could tell you exactly how much time he had to do something,” and then do it.
“He was very reliable, very willing to please, very pleasant to everyone,” she said. “He was just a good person.”
Museum Education and Volunteer Coordinator Carly Squyres said Doug was always willing to go the extra mile at the museum.
“He had a really positive, devoted energy that he would instill in everything,” she recalled. “He would always go above and beyond.”
In addition to volunteering at the museum, Squyres said Doug was editing his late father Alvin’s memoirs of wartime service. According to his obituary, Alvin, who passed away in 2005, served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II where he was captured by the Japanese and kept in a prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines for three years before he was rescued by American forces on Feb. 5, 1945.
Squyres said Doug had recently finished editing his father’s memoirs into a book, which he was planning on publishing. She also noted Doug was training to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya next month and was running, hiking, or walking upwards of 20 miles per day to prepare for the adventure.
“It feels like an unfair loss,” Squyres said. “He had so many plans.”