October 5, 2021
He helped prove accuracy of “Greatest Generation” tag
Doug Dofflemyer, “Puzzy” Stewart and Keith Emerson at the reception after the funeral of their lifelong friend, C. Edward Waters, on Nov. 16, 2014.
“The Funny Old Men,” my mother called them.
At least one Tuesday morning a month, they would carpool seven miles down Route 340 to the Hawksbill Diner in Stanley.
At the same Formica-topped table, with the same waitress, they ordered the same breakfasts — every time — for a couple of decades.
Doug Dofflemyer, Eddie Waters, Gene “Puzzy” Stewart and Keith Emerson talked about their families, sports, local news and politics.
The friendships that bound them together wound back to the 1930s in Luray.
When war came, each of them enlisted — Doug and Eddie in the Marine Corps, Puzzy in the Navy and my father in the Army.
The Axis defeated, they came home without some of their friends and got on with quiet, productive lives. Amazingly, each lived into his 90s.
But, the Greatest Generation lost three of their group in 2014, 2017 and 2020.
Only Doug survived, until his passing Sept. 27 at the age of 97.
Carroll Douglas Dofflemyer lived a truly remarkable life — one worth far more than a few words here. A single mother raised him in a time when that seemed unusual.
He and my father became friends in the first grade, meeting when the teacher lined up her students alphabetically by their last names.
After they raised two sons, Doug lost his wife Anna more than 46 years ago. Then he lost virtually all of his sight.
But, on any morning until recently, passing motorists would spot him at the east end of Luray, a couple of miles from his South Court Street home, walking purposefully with white cane in hand.
Doug had a device that lighted and magnified the Page News & Courier and Harrisonburg Daily News-Record so he could stay abreast of the news.
He never complained or made excuses. He relished life and engagement with others, maintaining a full calendar of activities.
About a decade ago, after I reloaded my then-85-year-old father’s weed whacker with fresh string, Doug heard about it and wanted me to teach him the technique.
Although he’d long ago surrendered his license, Doug routinely drove a Ford F-150 through his field above the Hawksbill Creek.
Pastor David Blevins, who retired from the Remington Baptist Church a few years ago and moved back to Luray, in his eulogy last Thursday captured the man perfectly.
Doug had given up his role as a deacon of the Main Street Baptist Church, but he remained devout and devoted, preferring to wash dishes for dinners there in the last years of his life.
Pastor David recounted the ways in which “Mr. D” had improved the lives of countless Luray kids — helping to build the Little League ballpark, serving on the Page Memorial Hospital board, serving on the regional Boy Scouts Council and providing “taxi” rides to and from events.
About 30 minutes later, a large honor guard from Quantico carried their fellow Marine, who had stormed the beach at Okinawa, to his final resting place atop the Evergreen Cemetery hill, punctuating the service with a precise flag presentation ceremony, a 21-gun salute and . . . Taps.
In our house, only words of reverence followed any mention of Doug Dofflemyer. My late parents valued his friendship and admired his dignity. My brother Philip and I came to share that appreciation.
May everyone have such a friend.
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