Shorewood man ‘always up for a challenge’
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News April 15, 2012 5:00PM
Updated: May 17, 2012 8:06AM
When Kay Abell of Shorewood reflects on the life of her husband Doug Abell, two Bible verses come to mind, Romans 8: 28: “All things work together for good to those who love God,” and Corinthians 13: 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Each stage of Doug’s life brought surprises and miracles, but always Doug demonstrated great acceptance and love for all people. It’s his love that remains.
“He was such an extraordinary man, although he’d be very surprised to hear it,” Kay said. “He was always pushing limits. He was always up for a challenge of any kind.”
Doug was a 9-year-old middle child who, within a few weeks of his father’s death in an automobile accident, gave his life to the Lord at a tent revival. Serving as a Marine in the Korean War, Doug was an expert marksman, which distressed him.
“He did not want to point a gun at another human being,” Kay said. Doug never did have to shoot.
Instead, as grace would have it, Doug, also an excellent basketball player, was asked to serve on the U.S. Navy’s basketball team. “He was always embarrassed to tell people that,” Kay said, “but God had other plans for him.”
Doug was 22 when he met Kay, then 15, when she was working at a Downer’s Grove Dog ‘n’ Suds. It was “love at first sight” for Doug, but Kay waited several months before “going steady.” Kay, engaged at 16, promised her parents she would finish school before marrying Doug.
Kay never regretted it. Doug, up until the moment of his March 25 death at age 80, personified the Bible’s definition of love. “He was a gentle man,” Kay said, “and a gentleman.”
At age 40, at the first signs of emphysema, Doug, a master “fixer-upper” and heavy smoker, quit smoking “cold turkey,” and looked to his retirement years, when he could fish every day. After 30 years at Caterpillar, he and Kay hit the road in their motor home and sought the perfect spot.
Instead, while attending a wedding in Hawaii, they toured one of the Youth with a Mission (www.ywam.org) training locations, fell in love with the organization and became missionaries, which took them all over the world.
Then, for three years, while serving at a Florida church, Doug had the opportunity to fish all day. “I took a picture of every fish he caught,” Kay said, “even if it was at midnight.”
After a massive stroke and subsequent move to The Timbers of Shorewood, Doug responded to another calling — making people smile and laugh with his “funny hat” ministry.
“He had a collection of 37 hats,” Kay said. “The people couldn’t wait to see what funny hat he’d wear each day.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.