Robert James Douglas, Jr. (Bob)
Just days before he left us, Bob Douglas stretched and grinned and joyfully pronounced, “I’m going home!” And so he did, on the first of December, 2022, after a brave battle with cancer. He was born on April 22, 1948, in San Antonio, TX, and grew up in Houston, TX. He came to St. Paul to attend Macalester College on a National Merit Scholarship. At Mac, he met Susan Middleton, the love of his life. He and Susan married in 1976 after a lengthy courtship. Bob was an accomplished musician, playing old-time, jug band, Irish, swing, country, bluegrass, and gospel music professionally. His skills included vocals, mandolin, guitar, spoons, and square dance calling. Performances were in Germany, on the West Bank scene in Minneapolis, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, in clubs and coffee houses around the U.S., and with the Prairie Home Companion radio show.
Bob experienced a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through the Jesus People movement in the seventies. For the rest of his life he attended church actively and provided solid spiritual leadership for his family. Though Bob left music as a vocation in 1983 in order to better provide for his growing family, he continued playing music, especially as a volunteer musician in church worship. The stable job he found was as a night custodian at the University of St. Thomas, where he continued to work for 32 years. While there he became a custodial supervisor, then moved into coordination of the central receiving docks and the UST recycling program. Under his direction the recycling program grew extensively. He particularly enjoyed serving as chair of the UST Sustainability Committee and as staff advisor to the students’ Green Team.
Throughout his life, Bob was a faithful husband, father, musician, learner, steward of creation, collector of quotations, and servant of God. He made many lifelong friends as a musician, with the Rutemus Reunion and Dog Show, The String Band, Mad Jack and the Black Label Boys, The Plough and Stars Ceili Band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band, The New Prairie Ramblers, The Show’d Up Band, The Blood Washed Band, the Tune Jerks, Captain Kaliber, The Biscuit Brothers, The Pop Wagner Trio, and more. He worked diligently to form his homegrown flock into the Douglas Family Singers, who performed at churches and senior homes. After retirement, he volunteered as a singer with the Giving Voice Chorus for people with Alzheimers. He lived most of his life with good friends in intentional community at Pillsbury House, then Holly House, and finally the Eichenwald Association. Bob delighted in nature, taking walks with Susan and his faithful dog Lucius, discovering new hiking trails, talking to trees, feeding birds, gardening, and floating in the Mad River canoe or the “Bob” boat with his fishing pole. He also built cherished bonds with his brothers and sisters in Christ during many years at Good Shepherd Church, Hope Christian Church, House of Mercy, and a too-short but deeply rewarding membership at The Recovery Church.
In a personal update submitted to the reunion committee of the Macalester College Class of 1970, Bob wrote:
“Keeping our marriage and friendship as well as sharing the responsibilities of parenting with Susan is perhaps my greatest accomplishment. David, Beth, Rachel, Sam, and Susanna are exciting, creative, challenging, and more reward than any effort they require. I receive more than I give. Life has purpose, and for that, I celebrate!”
Bob is preceded in death by his parents, Robert Sr. and Alva Raye (Horsley), his sister Margaret (McGregor) and his brother William David. He is survived by his wife Susan (Middleton), son David (Charmaine), daughter Elizabeth (David Saavedra), daughter Rachel (Douglas Swanson), son Samuel (Lauren Greden), daughter Susanna (Samuel Eldredge), 17 grandchildren, sister Claudia (Hallum), and many extended family members. Private green burial at Roselawn Cemetery, Roseville, MN. The celebration of a life well-lived will be scheduled in the spring. Memorials preferred: https://trees.org/ or https://fistulafoundation.org or https://www.ijm.org
Bob's obituary as published in the Pioneer Press:
ROBERT J. DOUGLAS JR. (BOB)
Bob Douglas passed from this life at the age of 74, on December 1, 2022, at his home in St. Paul. Throughout his life, Bob was a faithful husband, father, musician, learner, steward of creation, and follower of Jesus. He is preceded in death by his parents Bob Sr. and Alva Raye (Horsley), his sister Margaret (McGregor) and his brother William David. He is survived by his wife Susan (Middleton), his sister Claudia (Hallum); son David (Charmaine), daughter Elizabeth (David Saavedra), daughter Rachel (Douglas Swanson), son Samuel (Lauren Greden), daughter Susanna (Samuel Eldredge), 17 grandchildren, and many extended family members. Private green burial at Roselawn Cemetery, Roseville; a celebration of life will be scheduled in the spring. Memorials preferred: https://www.ijm.org or https://fistulafoundation.org or https://trees.org/