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In memory of Doug Brown, 1957-2002

The last time I stood in this church was a much happier occasion: Doug and Melissa Brown took their vows then, and we all celebrated. But this, too, is a celebration of sorts, a recognition of all the things that Doug Brown meant to all of us.

I met Doug in 1984 when he came to the copy desk of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and I immediately took a liking to him. Everyone did.

We worked side by side until just a couple of months ago. I missed him when I left, and I miss him now.

Doug was an extraordinary human being, and that was immediately apparent back when he joined the newspaper. We liked him then, and we all soon came to love him.

His unfailing good humor. The love and care he showed for all Godís creatures, from the least to the largest. His steadfast faith, which guided him in all things. His devotion to his family. His enthusiasm for sports. His expertise in editing, particularly headlines.

He was an exceptional journalist. I relied many times on his advice. He became the newsroom expert on animals.

Once my wife, Janet, called to ask me to ask Doug what to do about the copperhead in the laundry room. ďHeíll leave when heís ready,Ē Doug said.

I found everything to admire in Doug, and nothing to dislike. If there ever was a person who embodied the Christian principles of love, faith, kindness and charity, Doug was that person.

He was also the gentlest soul I ever knew. I donít know anybody who didnít like him.

Janet observed how remarkable it was that a grown man who kept stuffed animal toys at his workstation could command the respect and admiration of even the most hard-bitten of sports guys.

I found so much to admire in Doug that I wondered how I would characterize what he meant to me, what kind of headline Iíd write for the story of his life. It is this: Doug cared.

Doug cared Ė deeply Ė about his family, his church, his many friends and acquaintances, and about the newspaper.

Sometimes I thought he might care too much about the newspaper, the way his forehead would wrinkle when he disagreed with a decision or thought that the newspaper hadnít been as good as it could be.

Doug cared enough about his co-workers to bring pictures back to them after a vacation in Africa Ė not just snapshots, but full-size glossy photographs of elephants and lions and giraffes. I still have the one he gave me; itís a mother and baby elephant.

Doug cared about animals, and about the Earth, the havoc humankind has wrought on the land. But mostly he cared about people.

I think thatís why he is so universally beloved. Everybody knew that Doug cared about them.

And this is such an extraordinary quality, I thought, that though Janet and I donít have children, if we did, Iíd want them to grow up to be just like Doug. Maybe someday I can grow up to be just like Doug, and care like he did for everybody.

So when I think of Doug, thatís the thought Iím going to hold in my mind, my heart. That, and thankfulness for every minute I had with him.

Because every minute was the blessing that Doug brought to you and me and everyone he knew.