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October 11, 2001

OBITUARY: Charles McKenna Douglas

Charles McKenna Douglas, who began his career here as a bus driver for Pitt football teams during the 1950s and retired as the University's superintendent of Transportation, died on Sept. 29, 2001.

Douglas, 79, died of respiratory failure following surgery.

"Charlie would never take a sick day or a vacation day, he was so dedicated to his job," said Michael Cecere, operations manager of Pitt's Motor Pool.

But Douglas also loved jazz and playing host, said E. Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt's Nationalities Rooms Program. "Under Charlie, the Motor Pool became a haven for overworked vice chancellors, directors, secretaries, drivers and haulers," she said. "The Motor Pool's Christmas party was the underground social event of the season, with homemade chicken and the music of Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw blaring from a cassette player."

It was Bruhns who introduced Douglas to his feline colleague, Fred, a stray cat who adopted the Motor Pool as his home for 14 years, serving as mouser and honorary crew member. "I remember Charlie saying to me, 'Max, I don't need some damn cat,' but he immediately went to the refrigerator and got some milk for this stray," Bruhns said.

Douglas, of Mt. Washington, served as a navigator and gunner in U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bombers during World War II. After the war, he drove Greyhound buses in Pennsylvania and West Virginia before becoming a bus driver for Pitt's athletics department. In the late 1950s, Douglas organized the Uni-versity's Motor Pool, working from a desk in the basement of Bruce Hall.

He is survived by his children, Jim Douglas and Barbara Douglas Goodman, sister Nancy McLaughlin and grandson Joshua Douglas Goodman.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Red Door Program, c/o St. Mary of Mercy Church, 202 Stanwix St., Pittsburgh 15222.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 34 Issue 4

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