MISSOULA — At 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 18, Doug Booker passed from this life with his loving wife and daughter by his side and '60s music quietly flooding the room.
Doug was, more than anything, a caretaker, with a big and tender heart.
He loved fiercely, and his wife, Karen, and daughter, Kayje, as well as her husband, Nick, were the center of his world. No calculation could possibly capture the time and energy he put into taking care of those he loved. He would frequently check in, just to see how we were doing, to offer some gift, to send along an interesting article or funny comic he had found. But his concern extended broadly, to friends, acquaintances, strangers, and most living things (snakes excepted.) So many of us fondly remember his warm and friendly, “Hey, Kid” greetings, that persisted long after we ceased to be kids but reminded us of that time and made us feel young all the same. He frequently asked after others’ kids and families, curious and supportive of where their lives were leading them.
He noticed nature and had an artist’s eye for beauty and pattern that he often captured in photos, which he loved to take. His frequent walks around Missoula would take him along the river or up the mountain, where he would usually find something wild to appreciate and share. And he cultivated his own little slices of nature, creating beautiful and abundant gardens filled with vegetables and flowers, although never arugula, except by accident. He raised his daughter to do the same, teaching her to backpack and camp, inspiring her to garden. And he never failed to comment on the joy he felt at seeing the evidence of that legacy, the pride in his daughter’s garden, the vicarious pleasure of her photos from the backcountry.
As a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, he was proud of his service but critical of endless military conflict. He was keenly aware of and angered by inequality and unfairness of all kinds; he felt the pain of others as his own and so gravitated towards good news and happy endings. He gave generously.
He was often lighthearted and very funny, a dedicated practitioner of bad puns who never told jokes at others expense. And he had a creative mind, connecting ideas in unexpected ways, often with humor. He was curious about the world, especially about the ways that other people lived, and he traveled widely with his wife, exploring countries in South America, Asia, and Europe, although his favorite place to travel was Africa.
He had a gift for appreciation: good food (especially sweets), good music, interesting art, beautiful or unusual sights, whether close to home or far away.
He was loved so deeply, and his absence has ripped a hole in our world that will never be filled. But when we are comforted, it is by two thoughts: one, that he was happy with the life he lived and had no regrets. Two, that he knew he was loved and that, although words could never really capture the depth of our feeling, we had had the opportunity to express our love to him time and again. To all those who have reached out to us to offer support and share your love of Doug and our family, we wish for you these same comforts and are deeply grateful to have you in our lives.
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