Celebrating The Life of Martin “Dougie” Douglas

Home going Service for Mr. Martin “Dougie” Douglas held at St. Gabriel’s Church

“Sitting in the rear of the Cathedral I thought it strange to read a few paragraphs about my friend. Almost a decade of stories, secrets flooded my mind. My associate occasionally swaying with pangs of grief, drying his face.

“All day his crass humor filled my ears: I couldn't help but be in a cheerful mood. If Dougie's voice wasn't trapped in the funerary urn, we'd be sharing laughs, trading ideas, talking Pan... life.

“Once, he had come to my school and operations lead called my class “Mr. Rose, I think your father is here.” I shrugged and headed over to the main office. Dougie stood outside, with a leather cap and jacket, looking half-way between Santa Claus and Slickback. I hugged him then tried to clarify his identity with the office.

“As we walk in I'm asked “Is this your father?” Dougie replied, “I wish”.” --- Khuent Rose (Educator, Musician, Arranger, Tuner, Performing Artist)

Brooklyn, New York, USA - The late Martin Douglas no doubt had that classic “Dougie” smile on full display today in ʽPan heaven.’  Indeed he had to be smiling from ear to ear as his home going service was held at St. Gabriel’s Church.  In addition he had to be terribly pleased with the efforts of his wife Jannette Douglas, family and friends to celebrate his life and preserve his Pan legacy. 

Martin Douglas

Even with COVID-19 restrictions in full effect and a year later - folks came out to remember this pan-man who passed away March 31, 2020 from complications of the disease.

Jannette Douglas, widow of Martin Douglas, chats with attendee at the service for her late husband
Jannette Douglas, widow of Martin Douglas, chats with attendee at the service for her late husband

It’s not everyone who gets video dedications with the likes of Ray Holman, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Duvone Stewart paying homage to one’s contribution to the arts, and the way they lived their life.

Professor Eugene Pursoo - former Grenadian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Director of International Education at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, and now the President of the Caribbean Diaspora United, Inc. (CDU) - found words to articulate what Dougie meant to so many, not only in the steelband music artform but as a caring, loving and contributing citizen of the world.

Professor Eugene Pursoo shares his memories of Martin “Dougie” Douglas
Professor Eugene Pursoo shares his memories of Martin “Dougie” Douglas

One of the great loves and passions of his life was his band, CrossFire Steel Orchestra.  The band’s musical director Damany James was joined by Khuent Rose in musical tribute at the service.

Khuent Rose and Damany James
Khuent Rose and Damany James perform special tribute to Martin Douglas - Why Should I Feel Discouraged? (His Eye Is on the Sparrow)

ʽHis Eye Is on the Sparrow’ - Khuent Rose & Damany James
Obituary - Martin Douglas

Mr. Martin Douglas

MAY 3RD, 1948 - MARCH 31, 2020

Beloved Father, Grandfather, and Friend. Trinidad native, was born May 3, 1948 to Matilda and Josephus Douglas in Upper Bournes Road, St. James, Port of Spain Trinidad. He is survived by his wife Jannette Douglas, his three children Marlon, Astra, Jevon, and his grandchildren Khyah, Amazyah, Zavadyah, and Akas’a. Brother to Edric, Joan, Jannette, Matthew, Jenny, and uncle to many nieces and nephews. Known to many as “Dougie,” he was a great friend, confidant, and father figure to many. He migrated to the US in the early 1980s and worked many jobs before landing a professional position within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a Subway Car Inspector. He was very active in his union, Local 100 of the Transit Workers, and was well respected in his professional circles. However, his love for his culture and the Steelpan will live on forever.

Priest blesses the urn with the remains of Martin Douglas during the service
Priest blesses the urn with the remains of Martin Douglas during the service

For over two decades Mr. Douglas was a leader in Brooklyn’s steelband scene, playing his music everywhere he went, mentoring generations of young players and keeping the steelpan music a vibrant part of New York’s cultural life. He was the founder of Crossfire Steel Orchestra, a steel band admired across the city and beyond, and president of the United States Steelband Association. He was a tyrant in his endeavors and his unbelievable strides to incorporate Steelband music in schools and provide scholarship opportunities for inner city children while expanding their cultural Diaspora. He will be truly missed by the many hearts and souls he touched along his life. “Dougie” did many things in his life in the pursuit of happiness but at the end of it all, he did it his way.

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