Douglas W. Gentry, 1951–2013
Douglas Willard Gentry, of Ashland, Oregon, passed away at home on Saturday, November 9, 2013; he was 62 years old, and was diagnosed with a sarcoma, cancer of the soft tissue, eighteen months prior. Doug was born in Evanston, IL on April 10, 1951 to Willard and Patricia Taylor Gentry, and grew up in Midland, MI. Doug graduated from Stanford University in 1973 with a degree in sociology, but most importantly having met Elizabeth Downey Goddard, whom he married in a garden wedding in the Adirondack mountains on August 24, 1974. The two moved to the University of Michigan where Doug earned a joint master’s in applied economics and public health. From there, they moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area where Doug worked for Kaiser Permanente for seventeen years in a variety of executive roles. After leaving Kaiser, Doug continued to consult privately on health care matters and internet projects, but largely turned to his great love, teaching. He taught primarily at Saint Mary’s College of California, in both traditional undergraduate and adult education programs.
In 1980, his son Philip was born, followed in 1983 by his daughter Katherine. The family moved to Washington, DC for six years in 1981, before returning to Piedmont, California, where their children grew up and where he was heavily involved in community activities ranging from youth soccer refereeing to providing web support for the Piedmont Choirs and other non-profits. In 2004, Doug and Betsy moved to Ashland, Oregon where Doug taught economics at Southern Oregon University, and in his last year served as director of the University Seminar Program.
Doug was an inveterate civic leader with an exceedingly strong moral compass, known for his compassionate, upbeat, and methodical leadership. An Eagle Scout as a child, he mentored countless youth through the Piedmont Boy Scout Council until deciding to resign due to the national organization’s discriminatory policies. In Ashland, he was heavily involved with the Lithia Springs Rotary Club, volunteered with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, served on the City Budget Committee, and served on the Board of Directors of the Ashland Community Hospital, including a term as Chair that lasted until his final illness. Shortly before passing away, he was named the 2013 Citizen of the Year by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
Doug was also a life-long avid outdoorsman, especially in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York where he and Betsy vacationed every summer. Perhaps most characteristically, he also loved cooking and especially baking, going so far as to attend a weeklong baking course at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. Family, friends, students, and attendees of the Peace House free Tuesday meals will dearly miss his regular supply of fresh-baked treats.
In addition to his wife Betsy, his two children and their spouses, Mary Peacock and Craig Hutchings, Doug is survived by his father, Willard Gentry, sister Katherine Duso and her husband Paul, brother Stuart Gentry and his wife Abbie, and sister Mary Gentry, as well as his new grandson, Wilfred Peacock-Gentry, aged five months. His blog of the cancer experience can be found at: http://www.plain-sense.com/
A community potluck to remember Doug will be held at the Ashland Community Center on Friday, November 15, from 3–6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family invites contributions to the Rotary International Polio Plus Fund, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, or the Adirondack Mountain Club.