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Robert James Douglas

November 5, 1920 April 26, 2013
Robert James Douglas
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Obituary for Robert James Douglas

Fairfax - Robert Douglas, called “Bob,” by his friends, who were many, and called “Uncle Bob,” by every kid who ever knew him, died, peacefully, on April 26, 2013, at the Franklin County Rehabilitation and Adult Care Facility, in St. Albans, VT. He was born on November 5th, 1920, in St. Albans, Vermont, to George and Maude Douglas. His father was the Regional Supervisor of HP Hood & Sons. Bob grew up in North Camden, ME, Lancaster, NH and Newport, VT. He attended the old Newport High School, where he met Lillian Orne, whom he would eventually marry. He was in the Cavalry Unit at Norwich University, when, his studies were interrupted by WWII. He was appointed the rank of Second Lieutenant in the cavalry, from R.O.T.C. and entered active duty in July of 1942. When he was stationed in South Carolina, waiting for deployment, Lillian and Bob’s parents travelled to visit. Bob and Lillian were married there in 1942. He received some pilot training and then attended Engineer Training School for Bailey Bridging. He served overseas in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He was awarded 3 bronze service stars for Rome-Arno, North Appenines, and Po Valley Campaigns. His duty called him to lead a platoon, constructing inflatable, temporary, Ponton (Pontoon) Bridges. These bridges were instrumental in assuring safe and quick passage for the Allied forces and would be assembled and deconstructed for each crossing. Many were built in the dark of night, “by feel,” and were gone by morning’s light. Of particular World War II historical note, was the construction by Bob’s Platoon of the first allied bridge over the 1,000 ft wide Po River at Pisa, Italy. That bridge was a record length and had been completed under German artillery fire, in less than 24 hours. The 10th Mountain was the first to cross and opened up the allied advance into Northern Italy. Bob was awarded 3 bronze medals for his service and accomplishments. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for shrapnel injuries sustained on the Arno River. In 2005, he was called to the Vermont Statehouse to receive the Vermont Distinguished Service Medal, and the Vermont Veterans Medal from then Governor James Douglas. In 1945, following his injuries and period of recovery at Camp Gruber, OK, he was discharged from active military service, and entered the Organized Reserves. He graduated from Norwich University and went to work for HP Hood and Sons, travelling to plants that were in need of organization and increase in production. In the early 1950’s, he moved to St. Albans with his family. Later, he began working for Swanton Limestone Corporation, retiring in 1984. He was a tireless advocate and spokesperson of the farmers of Vermont, New Hampshire and parts of Canada, and also youth 4-H and Future Farmers of America. He lobbied energetically, for farmers’ interests in the State Legislature and testified frequently for the value of farmers, lime, lime ash and the value of wood chips for green energy. He was a devout member of the First Congregational Church for over 60 years, serving as Deacon and Trustee. He was very active in the Boy Scout Organization, Rotary, Masons and Legion. In 2010, he received a special award from the National Commander of the Legion for 60 years of outstanding service to the Legion Post #1. Bob could never go ANYwhere, without meeting someone whom he directly knew, or had a common acquaintance. He was a source of amazement in that regard. The question that always sparked the dialogue of friendship was “What does your father do for work?” Bob is survived by his wife for 71 years, Lillian Orne Douglas, David Douglas, Linda Douglas Smith and her husband, Wade Smith, Grandchildren: Donna and David, Jr., and Great Grandchildren: Savannah, Conner and Sean. The family requests that anyone wishing to remember Bob and recognize his contribution to community and humanity, consider making a donation to the Franklin County Rehabilitation Center, to the Attention of Phil Condon, 110 Fairfax Road, St. Albans, Vermont 05478. Many thanks for the wonderfully caring and experienced staff of the Rehab Center, for the family atmosphere and gentle kindness and care of Dad that enabled him to be with us so long. The services for Bob will be private, for the family, at the graveside. Private messages of condolence are welcome at www.healdfuneralhome.com.

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