As Doug would say…
“Back in the day”… a little boy by the name of Robert “Douglas” was born on Thursday, December 29, 1949 in Owen Sound to parents Robert Glenn and Muriel Evelyn (Ramage) Keeling. The Keeling family called a dairy farm on the 6th Concession of the former Sullivan Township home, where Doug welcomed younger brothers Jack (1951) and Barry (1954). While growing up the boys were very much hands-on and helped their parents with a variety of jobs and tasks around the farm. Doug’s father heard that playing music in the barn was good for the dairy herds health. So, they had a radio tuned to CKLW of Windsor with the on-air personality “Tom Rivers”. It was a rock ‘n’ roll station, and the boys would crank the volume up while doing chores. The boys had a tricycle and a pedal tractor that they would pedal around the downstairs of the house, making a loop from the kitchen to the living room and around and around. One time Doug turned at the wrong doorway and took his tricycle for a ride all the way down the basement stairs – he managed to hold on and stay upright all the way down! Doug and his brothers attended S.S. #6 Sullivan and then enrolled at O.S.C.V.I. in Owen Sound for high school.
It was on the bus ride to school that Doug was introduced to a young woman by the name of Joyce Carolyn Kuhl. They hit it off immediately, however, they attended different schools, so their relationship bloomed slowly. In Grade 11, unfortunately, Doug failed Physics, and during this time period, if you failed a class you had to re-do the entire year…ugh! The following year Doug attempted Physics again and failed his first test… the writing was on the wall! Doug quit school and applied for a job at RBW Graphics in Owen Sound. He started on September 19, 1968. Following several years of dating, Joyce and Doug were married at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesley on the evening of Friday, November 22, 1974. The young couple settled on the outskirts of Desboro and soon began their family, welcoming Carolyn Laurie in 1978 and Robert “Bob” Douglas in 1981.
By this time Doug had been promoted to Lead Pressman at work. He had a strong work ethic and was a valued employee. Throughout the years the name on the outside of the building may have changed however, Doug showed up daily and did the job he was tasked to do. He retired, after 42 years of service, in 2010 at the age of 61. Doug, however, was not all work and no play! Prior to the kid’s arrival, Joyce and Doug did some snowmobiling whereby they experienced the trip from hell in 1975. Honestly, they thought they might die but someone had different plans for them, and luckily life carried on.
In his spare time, Doug loved to work on his cars and tractors. It started back in his teenage years when Doug enjoyed lending his hand at the stock car races at Sauble Speedway. His 1974 red and white Plymouth Roadrunner, which he bought new, was “His Honey” (in addition to Joyce of course! 🙂 He loved to maintain, detail, and service this car and always looked forward to the Sunday drives that were always an adventure. After 47 years, the car is in mint condition and only has 122,000 miles on it. Amazing! Bob also recalled the Plymouth Satellite which could be driven on two wheels… yep you read that right! If you came out the driveway onto the road and then made a quick turn back in the second driveway towards the house, the car could be tipped on two wheels with the right touch. Yes, it wasn’t really safe, but the car never flipped, and you could often drive the entire length of the 200 ft. driveway. When not working on a car, Doug was usually arms deep in a tractor. He bought, repaired, and enjoyed several classics throughout the years. Minneapolis-Moline and Olivers were his brands of choice, with a 1949 Minneapolis-Moline “R” being the oldest in his collection. However, his pride and joy was the 1952 Oliver 77 that his father bought brand new. Doug also loved tractor pulls and frequented the local Fall Fairs and other events to take them in. The pulls in Desboro, Owen Sound, Flesherton, Feversham, Paisley, and Teeswater were staples in his calendar. At these events, he met people from all over the country and made many friendships that spanned his lifetime. Honestly, many of them became an extension of his family.
Doug was also known to give of his time, when available. When the kids were young Doug helped coach their ball teams in Desboro. When travelling to the camp that his brothers-in-law owned up north, they would load up in the 1981 Blue Dodge Cab and a half pick up truck, he would have his favourite tape of Dire Straits playing. Joyce would be riding beside him, and Bob and Carolyn asleep on a mattress they had tucked in behind the front seats for the five hour drive. Over many years, he enjoyed helping at the Desboro Fair wherever he was needed. When relaxing in the house, he loved watching anything NASCAR and was always tuned into 92.3 – The Bounce. If sharing a drink with Doug, Whiskey and water were his drink of choice. Pastries were also a weakness, and lately, they came from the Doctor recommended bakery in Chesley…. true story, ask the kids! If he was to keep anything on him, it was usually in his “secret agent spy scope pocket” a.k.a shirt breast pocket. It could have been the house portable phone, his cell phone, but most often his teeth. If Doug needed it close by, it was usually in his pocket!
Sadly, after many wonderful years together, Joyce was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Doug was her rock, and there to support her through her up and down battle. He tended to her every need. They made the best of every day, and Doug remained at her side daily until her death on September 23, 2016. In the last few years, he kept himself busy. Like most of us, Doug was stubborn and extremely independent. When diagnosed with his own cancer in May of this year, Doug was adamant that he remained independent and stay in his own home. In fact, in recent weeks, he insisted (or kicked out) the kids to leave him alone at night. He truly did not want to be a bother to anyone. With the help of his family and friends, Doug remained at home until the Friday prior to his death. His goal was to attend the Desboro Fall Fair, but sadly it was not meant to be. However, due to the kindness of his neighbours who videotaped some of the fair tractor pull, he was able to attend/watch it virtually. Doug passed away peacefully at Chapman House, Owen Sound, with his family by his side, on Monday, September 6, 2021. He was 71.
Loving father of Carolyn Keeling of Chesley and Bob (Colleen) Keeling of Desboro. Douglas will be dearly missed by his brothers Jack (Michele Phillips) of Kemble and Barry (Nancy) Keeling of Owen Sound, as well as the entire Kuhl family. He was predeceased by his wife Joyce (Kuhl) in 2016 and his parents, Robert and Muriel (Ramage) Keeling.
A public graveside service honouring Doug’s life will be held at the Chesley Cemetery Columbarium on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 beginning a 2 p.m. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation, Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce or the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.