At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Northwood Plainwell Little League
PO Box 263
Plainwell, MI 49080
Pentwater Historical Society
PO Box 54
Pentwater, MI 49449
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Douglas Brigham, it is easy to see his servant’s heart. He was the sort of person who lived to bless others, never wanting anything in return, and his dedication to the community he called home was unmatched. Doug was a devoted family man, and there was nothing he loved more than becoming a grandfather later in life. He enjoyed so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made these experiences so extraordinary was sharing them with the ones he loved. Although Doug will be deeply missed, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods while waiting for the latest news from the front lines. Amidst this eventful time was a day of great celebration in the lives of Ernest and Virginia (Sutton) Brigham as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Douglas on Halloween, October 31, 1944, in Temple Texas. He was one of two children as he was joined in his family by his sister, Virginia “Ginny.” Doug’s father was in the Army when he was born and when Doug was just one year old their family moved back to Michigan.
In many ways Doug was a young boy of his generation. Being a Halloween baby, it took him a while to figure out that everyone didn’t celebrate their birthdays with the same sort of flair. Doug attended local schools including Loy Norrix where he played baseball as well as other sports. He loved music and performed in several musicals throughout high school. He later played baseball for Western Michigan University and earned his master’s in education. During this time he loved visiting his father at work in downtown Kalamazoo and going to lunch together.
New and exciting changes were in store for Doug when he met the young girl of his dreams. Her name was Lin, and they met at a dance at Western Michigan University. Sparks flew nearly right from the start, and they knew they were soul mates. Doug often spoke of how it was his relationship with Lin that turned him into a successful student as he would regularly visit her in the dorms for study dates. He became an A student as a result. Doug and Lin dated for a time, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on August 13th, 1966, at St. Vincent’s in Pentwater. As a young couple they enjoyed going out to basketball or football games at WMU with other couples, and they frequently went to South Haven and the beach on weekends. They also traveled every summer and spent many weekends in Pentwater. They later welcomed their son, Aaron, into their hearts and home. Doug was an active part of Aaron’s life in several ways. When Aaron started Little League, Doug became the assistant coach and continued coaching for years. He later trained their umpires and was even president of Northwood Little League. More recently, Doug’s granddaughters played Little League on the same field. He forever viewed his wedding day to be the best day of his life, and he cherished his wife until he drew his last breath.
A hardworking man, Doug fully devoted himself to whatever task was at hand. As a young newlywed he was in pre-law, majoring in medieval studies. Doug later made his career as a teacher at Comstock Middle School, and Lin also taught in Plainwell. He especially enjoyed creative writing and was the director of driver’s training during the summer. Lin and Doug started the Teacher Center in Portage, specializing in selling supplies for teachers. He worked there part-time while teaching, and once he retired from the school system he worked there full-time.
Throughout his life Doug maintained an active lifestyle. Sports were so much a part of him that he would always check the sports schedules in cities they’d visit to see if they could catch a game. They often spontaneously went to a stadium, got the best ticket they could, and just spent the day together. Doug also supported local sports and had season tickets for several local teams. He walked the Freedom Trail in Boston and traveled to Hawaii on three occasions. Alaska was Doug’s favorite, especially because it was a longer trip, which allowed them to get to know the people they were with very well. He also loved cruises and danced the night away on more than a dozen ocean liners with his sweetheart. Doug had one of the biggest John Deere tractors one could imagine with every attachment there was. He’d often put on his shorts, black boots, and black cowboy hat to take care of the yard. It was fairly common for Doug to be out there dressed in this way mowing for hours. This was his time of solace and reflection on his life. He also loved helping Lin with her flower garden, and it has been said that nobody could trim shrubs like Doug could. They enjoyed working in the garden or on the lawn together. Doug had several collections including handcrafted antique duck decoys, old fashioned milk bottles, and post cards from Pentwater. A long standing goal of his was to one day write a book and research the history of Pentwater featuring the postcards. Doug also collected autographed baseballs, which he usually got while attending spring training games in Phoenix. During his younger years he enjoyed golfing with friends, and sometimes Lin would join him. For many years he played Santa at their store, wearing his custom-made suit. Doug alternated his look between the traditional coat and a special cape the seamstress made for him. The kids just loved it, and after they closed the store Doug played Santa at Drake’s Pond where they lived. If Lin and Doug went shopping together, she always came home with several full bags as he loved spoiling her. As someone who enjoyed the arts, Doug and his wife loved musicals especially Phantom of the Opera and saw it in several cities.
In more recent years, Doug continued making the most of the days he was given. He and his wife were downsizing so they put together a garage sale. Doug reluctantly agreed to give up his baseball collection, but a friend bought most of his autographed baseballs, wrapped them up, and later gave them back to Doug as a gift. He continued enjoying trips to the beach and Pentwater, which he loved for its quaint charm. Doug was very close to his grandchildren, and he was there to support them in all their special moments.
All who knew Douglas Brigham would agree that there was no one quite like him. He had a knack for being quiet and patient, but he was always there when someone needed him. Doug adored his family, and his mission in life was to selflessly bless those around him in whatever way he could. He will never be forgotten.
Douglas E. Brigham, of Kalamazoo, died peacefully on November 13, 2018. Surviving are his wife, Lin; 1 son: Aaron (Maryann) Brigham; 6 grandchildren: Veronica, Kevin, Ryder, Kari, Cassie, Erika; 1 great grandchild: Jax; and many nieces and nephews. Doug was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Virginia “Ginny” Goodacre. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends on Saturday, December 8th from 2 - 4 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Doug’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Northwood Little League or the Pentwater Historical Society.