David Joseph "Doug" Hartford

 

December 18, 1937 - January 26, 2019

 

Doug Hartford was known for his confidence in those around him and his genuine concern for others. Generous of spirit and a reliable friend, he never failed to offer help or thanks where it was needed or deserved. 

 

He had a gift for making everyone feel important and empowered and he can be proud of the moral compass that steered the enterprise of his life. His partner for more than sixty years, Dorothy Hope, stood by his side as he made impossible recovery, after impossible recovery, since the day the car smashed into his little red truck while he waited to turn left onto the street he had called home for forty-five years. His daughters Susan Denise Hartford and Linda Hartford will miss his strong, if stubborn, opinions. Alexandra, Benjamin and Marley will miss Grampie's guidance, affection, and bedtime stories. They will carry with them his eagerness to find joy in the everyday: a toboggan ride, the whistle of a train, the digging of the first potatoes in the spring.  

 

Doug rounded out his life with the dearest of friends. Betty Gore, a co-opted member of the family, he teased without mercy and appreciated without restraint in their decades-long friendship and Thursday morning breakfasts. Chuck Huycke, for whom there was no driveway too long to shovel, flooring too complicated to lay, or furniture too heavy to move in the companionship of his longstanding neighbour and friend. Happy memories of their first house nestled in the Ferris Road community sustained a lifelong friendship with the Reader family. Doug’s close relationship with his brother Cecil was anchored in a common past and built across decades of common interests as they worked together, raised families, and tended their bountiful gardens.

 

The trajectory of adult life began around his sixteenth birthday. A teacher named Jim McKay drove out to the family farm to try to dissuade Doug’s father from withdrawing him from school mid-year. One cold, rainy night a few weeks later, while heading back to the neighbouring farm where he now lived and worked, the young labourer slid off the lonely road in the old truck he was driving. While he pushed and strained alone in the mud, the former teacher’s car pulled up alongside. Dressed in an elegant wool coat, McKay lent a shoulder and pretended not to see the tears mixing with the rain on the boy’s face. A few weeks later, a Grade 10 diploma was mailed to the farm on the basis of an independent study unit that Doug had ‘completed’. Working in Florida the following year, Doug grappled with the premature death of his beloved mother in the pre-medicare days, while watching racial and socio-economic injustice rage in the streets of his ‘integrated’ neighbourhood. He returned to Ontario a man of eighteen with entrenched values far beyond his years.

 

A career as a linesman for East York and then Ontario Hydro affirmed Doug's work ethic. Many wonderful colleagues contributed to the joy he experienced in problem solving the challenges in his day-to-day work. He had less patience for the bureaucratic excesses that increasingly infringed on one's good judgement in work and in life. Kenny, Frank, Art, Norm, Roy, Harry and others, thank you for friendship and guidance in the formative years. Ralph, Mick, Cecil, Brian, Bill, Rex, Joe, and so many more, thank you for the kitchen-table stories, the farms you got back on the grid, and the unfailing "white truck scrutiny" the Hartford girls enjoyed all over Durham region.

 

The brief moments of joy snatched on the hard-scrabble family farm of his childhood were not forgotten. They motivated him to sustain an annual picnic where his extended family could get together. Doug is survived by ten brothers and sisters and the children and grandchildren of all twelve of his siblings who might not otherwise know each other. 

 

Doug loved to be busy. He loved to read library books and the newspaper and listen to talk radio. He loved the bicycle club and travelling, loved to dance and to garden, and loved babies and little dogs. He loved to wash the floor, preferably with a small child riding horsey on his back. He also loved to wash his car, speak in broken Spanish, and skid, just a little, on snowy roads. Most of all, he loved people. 

 

He pushed through each medical challenge with determination and greeted each milestone with a broad smile and a thank you to everyone involved. We celebrated having “old Doug” back many times over the past ten months with events and outings. The cumulative effect of the medical stresses on his body that were set in motion by the car accident eventually became too much. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, therapists and personal service workers who had the strength of character to rise above institutional standards and see the exceptional man in his intervals of recovery and as he recently entered palliative care at Bridgepoint. Thank you to all who visited and called.

 

Doug's final chapter was consistent with his character. What was supposed to take months he accomplished in a single day, leaving with grit and with dignity, surrounded by people that he loved. 

 

Please join us in sending Doug off in the manner he wished.  Bring with you a happy story or character-confirming anecdote to share with friends and family. 

 

Saturday, February 16, 2019, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Memorial Tributes will be held at 1:30 pm (lunch served)

 

Chanterelle Bistro

33 Division Street

Bowmanville, Ontario

 

If you have photographs of Doug, we invite you to email them to aasjcr@gmail.com and they will be uploaded to the shared album below.  Alternatively, bring them to the celebration. We will ensure they are returned. RSVPs are appreciated so we can arrange for food and drink accordingly. In lieu of flowers please make the time to provide company for Dorothy in the coming weeks and months as she faces the next phase of her life without the strong hands that have held hers for the past sixty-three years.

 

To RSVP please follow the link https://docs.google.com/document/d/11N1xJARaiiWiVoRjrRpbqpvnzGYEBUncHHLIvjAymGs/edit