November 29th 2017
Reflections on Douglas Younger Jr.
On behalf of the Younger Family, I would like to express my warm-felt gratitude for all the support provided by extended-family, personal friends, loyal clients, and professional colleagues of my father. Special acknowledgement should also be made to the teams at Hamlar-Curtis Funeral Home, First Baptist Church, Lee Road Baptist Church for aiding in funeral accommodations. Special thanks for the participation of Reverend Wright and Pastor Quincy a long-term supporters of the Younger Family. I am sincerely appreciative of you all as it has helped carry my immediate family, as you can imagine, through a very difficult period.
Douglas Younger Jr, Junior, Tennis Pro, “Doug-er” or “Pops” (as I liked to call him) had many different names because in our community he was a brother, cousin, husband, coach, financial advisor, fraternity brother, tennis player and to me personally, a father. Douglas Younger Jr was a great man. Simply put, they just don’t make them like that anymore. For me, my father was a “Hero” and a “Role Model” because he constantly demonstrated his values of pride, discipline, love, hard-work, and personal-growth. Today I hope to share some personal reflections of my father to remind you of the values he lived for which I hope provides you some comfort to move forward in his ever-lasting memory.
First of all, my father was a very proud man. He took tremendous pride in his roots in Roanoke Valley telling stories frequently of his days at Lucy Addison High School, his football career, and his camaraderie with many of his teammates that are even here today. My father was also incredibly proud of the Younger Family origins, understanding lineages, and discussing family history. (I’ve never seen a greater smile from him than at family reunions) Over the years, he learned so many life lessons from his parents the late Douglas Younger Senior and Janice Morgan Younger. (Often quoting his veteran father in preparing for life’s adversity, “When at peace prepare for war.”) He truly loved and felt personal responsibility to care for his siblings including his two sisters (Brenda & Eunice) and brother (Vincent). To my father family was always #1.
My father was a very disciplined man as well. If you knew him, you can easily recall his strict diet (including a banana per day, OJ, or his beloved vitamins), frequent workouts (even in those brutal Cleveland winters), and he would always avoid of over indulging. But many may not know, my father’s personal commitment to building his own strength and vitality originated early in child-hood as although he couldn’t afford weights he instead started “lifting bricks” in a suitcase. (I always thought that story was funny but) Pops throughout life would continue to demonstrate resourcefulness to find ways to build his strength.
Also, my father was a very loving person. For over thirty years he was a devoted husband and caregiver to my mother the late Kathie Johanne Wheaton (whom he nicknamed “Bean” as he loved to eat kidney, baked, or barbecue beans from places like Texas Tavern). Together my father and mother raised me over the years often traveling back and forth from their home in Cleveland and their Hometown here in Roanoke enjoying their time together as soul-mates originating as the true high-school sweet hearts they were. My father also embraced my mothers people the Wheaton Family (including Hazel, Walter, Robin, Judy, & June and their children) as his own.
In the past few years my father developed a deep and meaningful relationship with Wendeline (Wendy) McCullough who has been a strong supporter for him. My father loved to spend time with friends and college classmates mainly because I believe he loved to laugh (and if you know him his laugh was truly one of a kind) I loved my father…personally, for me, over the years, my father was my tennis coach, fishing-partner (Him often asking “Let’s throw a line in.”), career-coach, and encouraging me as my greatest supporter. He would love to tell stories (and we all know my dad loved to talk) about myself (whether you know me by DJ or Doug 3rd) I am sure you heard the stories about my beautiful marriage in Chicago to my wife Nikita Joshi, stories our accomplishments in life professionally, stories about life in Chicago, stories about life in New York City, stories about my professional travels internationally, or stories about now living in California raising his two grandchildren Dillon and Devin Younger. Although my father is gone he will never be forgotten by his loved ones.
My father was a hard-worker. During his journey in life, he achieved a great many personal accomplishments from hard-work and determination. My father worked his entire life starting his working life with a small paper-route & shoveling snow, and ending his career as a successful Cleveland small business owner. My father graduated with honors as an accomplished college athlete and fraternity brother from University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. My father always prioritized making the grade due to his beliefs that the primary motivation for college is economic advancement which is a quality he instilled in his children as myself and Tya Younger Board (whom he helped raise like a daughter) both achieved graduate level education. (As if we had a choice) My father although sometimes reluctantly embraced change (as he can be set in his ways) having moved over 30 years ago to Cleveland Ohio with Norfolk and Southern Railroad but later began his own business in insurance and later expanded into financial services (achieving advanced degrees and designations himself) and building an extremely large client base in the Cleveland area. (To me it just seemed like he had a client everywhere doing just about everything imaginable) If you knew my father you know it’s true he would very reluctantly ask for help but he absolutely shared everything he had to help others.
Lastly, my father believed in personal-growth. For the past 6-weeks my father and I endured one of the most challenging and inspirational events of our lives. You see my father very recently was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer. This means he had a kidney cancer that already had spread to his lungs and affected his breathing. But despite being given a terminal diagnosis my father (a very private person when it comes to the matters of the heart or health) had the ambition to fight. After a life-long career as a servant for his community he chose to focus his remaining time on his immediate family and on his own health applying himself in physical and occupational therapy.
He embraced the latest medical innovations working with the nurses, physicians, and my wife. He made such an impression on the clinical staff that the head of University Hospital Oncology team commented that all the residents and staff viewed my father like their own father. My father and I just a few weeks ago were working on a new chapter in his life of him permanently moving to sunny California to spend the remaining time he had left with his two grand-children (A nurse had commented my father told her in the ICU to hurry up as he was moving to California with a huge grin on his face) But in the end, even though it was a fight that he couldn’t win he never gave in. My father’s last words to me this past Sunday were, “Son never be afraid to do what you have to do.” This comment is the spirit of my father Douglas Younger Jr leaving a legacy of optimism, strength, and inspiration. My message to you on a very sad day is to please don’t give in to despair, lose hope, or succumb to the challenges of life but like my father never give in. My message to you as a community, we must endure, in his memory we must persevere, and as a family we must continue to be strong.
Douglas Younger lll Founder & CEO of 3STEPS4WARD