August 21st, 2016         6 comments


It has been a couple of long weeks cleaning out Doug’s apartment at the same time exploring his inter-sanctum and wonderful world of artwork and friends.  His friends have been very helpful.  I truly enjoyed our “Gathering at the Pond” meeting many more of his friends and the ducks.  Katie came over to Doug’s place last night and borrowed several of his early works to setup a display at the “Artisan’s Bench” on Main Street across from the pond; so you can view some of his early works for a month or so.  She will have the display opening posted on  Before Doug transitioned to computer graphics he, in my opinion, created wonderful expressive hand works of art in many formats.

I, as my retirement passion, am writing memoir to pass on to my family.  Below is my recording of the “Gathering at the pond”.  Doug was a one-on-one person and I believe many present at the gathering had not yet met the other’s present.  I truly enjoyed the experience.


Doug’s Last Gathering

My younger brother, Douglas Alden Peterson, passed away on June 24th in Brighton Michigan.  He was a good person and I loved him dearly.  We have lived 900 miles apart for the past 18 years and saw each other rarely.  After his heart attack at the end of last summer, I visited him in the hospital, spending a week in the area.  At that time we discussed his final arrangement wishes.  His statement was clear and simple.  He wanted to be cremated, his ashes thrown in the trash, and no memorial service.  I simply stated “That is not going to happen.”  He had made his point.  I had made mine.

Doug was never married and had no children; a true packrat, gifted passionate creative artist, creative problem solver, lover of nature, and lover of people in a one-on-one relationship, but was very private in talking about his personal life.  I was listed as his only heir with the responsibility of closing out his apartment and distributing his meager assets.

I knew little of his personal life.  I met several of his friends purposely and by Doug’s instructions in case he did not survive long after his heart attack.  Cleaning out his one bedroom apartment stuffed to the ceilings has been an experience and a rediscovery of much of his and my common elements, and his art treasures.

Doug graduated with honors from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1965.  Completed a Masters of Education at Ohio University and spent two years working in the hills of southern Ohio with grade school kids in the Teacher Corps.  He moved on to be the Director of the Michigan Art Train and traveled the country exposing rural America to fine art and giving art classes in the train to young people.

Tiring of the constant travel, he moved to Brighton to start an art business.  He has, in my opinion, created an enormous collection of art in many different forms, including water color and acrylic paintings, bronze castings, charcoal sketches, and sculptures.  He has taken old discarded chairs and made them into bright creations.  He made fancy decorative pillows and sewn accessories to accent his creations.  His creativity seemed to be unlimited.  In his early days all of his creations were done by hand.

His business targeted meeting the marketing support needs of clients with creative ideas and striking literature.  As time progressed he was forced economically to move into computer graphics, expanding his skills later into website design always supported by his excellent photography skills.

Doug always loved nature and studied it.  Dad was a nature lover and took us regularly to the duck pond at Palmer Park in Detroit to feed the ducks.  I was not surprised when I heard Doug was known as the “Duckman” around the pond.  I firmly believe his anytime day or night visits to the pond were his total escape meeting new people, talking to kids, talking to and feeding the ducks, enjoying the mink and chipmunks, enjoying the water, educating others about nature, and just being Doug.  That is why I scattered his ashes on the water at the pier as I approached the fire station and held a “Gathering at the Gazebo,” not a memorial.  It was a meeting of some 60 friends and sharing a little time in his world of wonder.  I was impressed when I completed my family history words with the sharing others provided of their positive interactions with Doug.  His life was good.  May his spirit always reside at the Mill Pond he so loved.

Charles A. Peterson, Springdale, AK, 08/18/2016

§ 6 Responses to "Gathering"

  • Christine Andrews says:

    Hi Charles. It saddens me very much to hear of Dougs passing. My husband and myself visited the Millpond often and made it a point to visit with Doug, catch up, and just chat. I am hoping to get in touch with you about something that has been on my mind regarding this sad time. Please email me.

    Our deepest condolences to you during this hard time.
    – Christine Andrews

  • Judith G Rosenberger says:

    Gary and I were looking forward to the gathering, but I fell and landed in the hospital, now grounded for several weeks with a fractured leg. Home today in a wheel chair, and reading eagerly your post. I had wanted to share with you my ideas for his remains, but did not want to put my thoughts online. So I was warmed and pleased to read of your decision about his ashes – just what I was hoping for myself , and a perfect place for Doug to be! We walk the millpond boardwalk often, and were always hoping we would see him there! I am writing a Bible Study on the life of Christ, and he was always inquiring about my progress. I wasn’t sure of his faith, but was hoping to get a chance to show some of it to him – I hope the angels did just that!!!

  • Wanda Ryan says:

    Doug used to bring me homemade bread a couple of times a year. He was a really good baker. I miss him. Very grateful to have called him my friend.

  • Wanda Ryan says:

    Doug used to bring me homemade bread a couple of times a year. He was a really good baker. I miss him. Very grateful to have called him my friend. Thanks again for the gathering.

  • Nadine says:

    I met Doug after visiting my sister in Brighton, Michigan. I spent many long weekends in 2013-2014 in Brighton coming from Toronto, Ontario to visit. Some of my best memories were going for late walks in the Brighton Pond and running into Doug. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about nature. I would always see him turning strangers into friends while caring (over and above) for the residents of the Brighton Pond. I am truly saddened to hear about Doug’s passing. He was truly one of a kind. I hope his memory lives on at the Brighton Pond.

  • Chuck Peterson says:

    In response to Judith’s comments. My brothers and I grew up going to church every Sunday with Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad were good Christian people until the church split over dismissing our old senior pastor. The church was dying needed to change. The conflict progressed for several years. Dad was heavily involved and pushed for a change that the pastor fought against. We finally left the church not to ever return as a family. We were all turned off by the events of the church’s behavior. We continued to live with a Christians life style just without the tie to a congregation. I returned to church with the birth of our first daughter and remain active in local congregations. Doug was always from what I observed very Christian in his actions but refused to get back into potentially another situation.

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  • Douglas Peterson
    Brighton, Michigan

    Artist • Designer
    Writer • Illustrator
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    You'll find information about the resident ducks, birds, and critters residing at the Brighton millpond. I slip in my art and poetry, but my photography of wildlife and plants is the primary focus.

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