by Dick Sterling
I was saddened last week to hear about the sudden passing of Al Douglass. Al died unexpectedly on Wednesday (June 15), at his Gouverneur home. He was 78 years old.
Al was born and raised in New Jersey, but he came to Gouverneur to marry his sweetheart, Mary (Storrin), at St. James Church in 1966. The couple was only 10 days shy of their 50th wedding anniversary when Al died.
Mr. Douglass began his teaching career at Gouverneur Central and remained a fixture for 34 years. Even though Mr. Douglass was a wonderful teacher, and helped to guide many to further their educational goals, it was GHS sports where he displayed his passion for sports, competition, and the qualities of being part of a team and teaching youngsters, primarily female athletes, the finer points of the games he coached. He was a tremendous mentor. He coached volleyball, golf and soccer, but will be best remembered by most for his Ladycat basketball teams.
I can remember standing courtside and watching Coach Douglass throwing his arms up in the air in utter disbelief over a call by the official, “You have got to be kidding,” he would yell.
He was always teaching his girls how to play fairly and how to win. Some of his teams were the best Gouverneur has ever seen. The one thing I can remember more than anything else was Al’s passion for sports and his love of the games.
Coach Douglass was also a familiar voice on the air for Gouverneur sports and was featured in the Tribune as a sportswriter as well as a features writer… sharing some of his post-retirement adventures on some of America’s finest golf courses.
Al was as passionate about the game of golf as he was any other sport. He would talk at length about his golfing experiences, not just how he did on the scorecard, but also what he witnessed and enjoyed during his particular trip to a course, famous or not, and what he liked or disliked about it.
A few years ago the Tribune published a story about Mr. Douglass and his unique experience of landing a fantasy job as a ball boy, even though he was over 70 years of age, for the New York Yankees at their spring training facility, Steinbrenner Field, in Florida, where Al and Mary wintered. Al was so excited when he stopped in to share the details of his winter/spring job, the people he met, the things he saw and the joy he felt working for the Yankees… he returned to the Yankee job every February and March since.
When it came to sports Al Douglass retained the excitement for the games he enjoyed right up until the end of his life. He was a great teacher, a tremendous coach and a good man… who was a life-long supporter of the Wildcats.
Our condolences to Mary Douglass, his three children and three grandchildren. He will be sadly missed by our community.
by Dick Sterling