Doug was born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1929 to Joseph & Evelyn Blizel. He had one younger brother, Donald, who died in his early 20’s, a sad event that had a lasting effect on the family.
Doug came from a working-class family and was raised in Denver during the Great Depression. His father worked in a factory, and his mother worked for JC Penney.
Doug’s early jobs included delivering ice to people’s homes for their icebox (that was before everyone had a refrigerator), and serving ice cream and hot dogs during summers at Denver City Park. Later, when he became a father, Doug liked to flex his muscular right forearm and point out to his kids the “ice cream muscle” that he developed scooping ice cream at City Park. An aspiring musician, he next spent some time working at a Denver music store.
After graduating high school, he took some music classes at Denver University and had a paying job playing saxophone and clarinet in a Dance Band. This was the era of “Big Band Music” and that style of music remained important to him throughout his life. He went into the Navy around 1950, and luckily, since he never learned to swim, he stayed on solid ground, as a Tower Operator at Buckley Field in Denver. He continued to play music in the Navy Band.
After leaving the Navy, Doug hung out for a while with a navy buddy in LA, until the money ran out. He then made his way back to Denver where he started his career with United Airlines. Working in Payload Control for United in Denver, he met his future wife Betty, who also worked for United.
Doug and Betty were married in Betty’s hometown of Chicago in 1957. Betty remembers Doug was freezing as they walked along Lakeshore Boulevard in minus-4-degree weather, and making an emergency stop to buy gloves, scarf & hat. You would think he’d have been more prepared, having come from Denver, but he was in love and perhaps not thinking straight.
After moving from Denver to the warmer climate of the San Francisco Bay Area, Doug and Betty became the proud parents of daughter Karen Marie and son Steven Douglas. They moved from Burlingame, to San Mateo, to suburban Fremont, where they bought a brand-new home in September of 1963. The family began attending Irvington Presbyterian Church shortly afterward, and it has been Doug and Betty’s church home ever since.
Doug enjoyed vacations with the family, including trips to Michigan and Wisconsin to visit relatives, and camping trips, which were always enjoyable challenges. There were road trips with the kids sleeping on the floor of the VW Beetle and the VW bus. After much planning and saving, and with airfare provided courtesy of United Airlines, the family also enjoyed epic vacations in Hawaii and Europe. Flying on an airplane was an exciting event back then—people would dress up, be treated to a nice meal, and sit in comfortable seats. When the family traveled, the kids were on their best behavior, although the kids were well-behaved to begin with.
At United, Doug worked in Passenger Service then later moved to Crew Scheduling. Things were different in the early days of commercial airlines. Doug wore a uniform like a pilot’s, with a hat, jacket and tie. Doug commuted daily from Fremont to San Francisco airport, and he worked rotations of 3 shifts throughout his career. He often said that he wasn’t sure whether he was coming or going - he was usually jet-lagged without ever leaving the ground. The job was changing and with the stress of the odd hours, Doug made the decision to retire a bit early, at the age of 58, after 33 years with United. That same year, the first of his four grandchildren was born. Spending time with his grandchildren gave him nothing but joy for the rest of his life.
Doug loved baseball from a young age, and was a great fan of the game, following the A’s and Giants after moving to California. The family went to many A’s games in the early 70’s when the team won 3 World Series Titles, and he remained a loyal fan even in more recent years when they lost more games than they won.
Doug also liked to play golf whenever he could, and after retirement he played on a regular basis. He always enjoyed the game itself and spent many afternoons watching the pros on TV, but he cherished the camaraderie with his golfing buddies both on the course and at the “19th hole.”
After his retirement, Doug enjoyed travels with Betty, going on trips to Alaska, Hong Kong, and Hawaii, among other places. He usually had a camera around his neck and always enjoyed sharing slides and photos of their adventures.
Doug also got back into music in his retirement, playing in various big bands, and teaching saxophone and clarinet at Allegro Music in Fremont for many years. He loved passing on his passion for music and was thrilled when his students shared that passion. He also really loved seeing his grandchildren perform, whether it was with a school band or at holiday get-togethers.
But above all, Doug loved his family. He looked forward to any time his family could be together, including annual picnics at Big Basin, birthdays, and holiday celebrations. Sharing good times, good food, and especially, good music, always put a smile on his face. It would warm his heart to see all his friends and family gathered together today.
in lieu of flowers donations can be made to "Fremont Education Foundation After School Band Program"