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TRIBUTE TO DOUG HANEY, Class of 1969
22 December 2013
My family arrived in India a week after school had started in September 1963. After checking in at the office, I was directed to my first class, which was already in session. The teacher pointed to an empty chair a couple of rows back. I sat down next to a tall blond boy who looked very bored. The seats in AIS were pre-formed plastic and the design of the chair included an open oval in the back of the seat exposing the occupant’s derriere. Within minutes the blond boy next to me, who turned out to be Glen Minehart, whipped out his Zippo lighter, leaned forward and started heating up a butt in front of him. It took a couple of seconds to get the desired result, a yelp and a hurt, angry face whipped around and a couple of expletives were uttered. This was my first glimpse of Doug Haney.
Although considered a cool guy, Doug was the brunt of jokes and pranks at school, taking more abuse than anyone could imagine. Somehow he seemed to relish the role. Doug and I became fast friends and spent most of our free time hanging out together. New Delhi was a perfect playground for teenage boys. The freedom we enjoyed, taking taxis and scooters, having the city as the backdrop for our shenanigans was more than magical. When the Beatles arrived in India for the first time in ‘66, Doug and I skipped swim team practice and went straight to the Oberoi Hotel. We weren’t allowed to hang out in the lobby, so Doug came up with the idea of renting a room on the same floor as the Beatles. We sent several packs of Marlboros to their room and all four Beatles signed a napkin as thanks. Doug still has it.
Although we lost track of each other many times over the next 45 years, somehow we always managed to find each other again. Thanks to the AIS newsletter started by KC Siebert, alumni email addresses were published. After that there were no more long lapses.
Doug was an extremely animated and personable individual. He didn’t just overstep personal boundaries, he pole-vaulted over them. Somehow, his behavior didn‘t put many people off. He would saunter into a grocery store like he owned the joint, addressing the workers like they were his long lost friends. Big smiles would appear on their faces.
Doug didn’t live life working 9 to 5. He was no angel, he made many questionable choices in his life, and even he would agree with that. He had jobs that ranged from emptying port-a-potties to owner/publisher of a small town newspaper. Doug loved any vehicle that had a engine, and owned cars, vans, boats and motorcycles over the years. He loved making music and at the last count, he had 33 guitars!
There are so many unsolved mysteries in his life as well as in his death. The loss of his wife Becky (Class of 1970) earlier this year was a big blow, and I am sure he began to think about his own mortality. His recent decision to live in Goa got off to a good start but somehow turned to tragedy. We all hope to find out what exactly happened the day he died.
In the early ‘70s, my father told me sternly that one day, Doug and I would part paths, that our camaraderie would not last. In many ways he was correct, we parted paths, but we never did lose our friendship. I am glad I got to tell him that I loved him in a phone conversation just last month.
When we were 15 years old and tenting at the Campbell’s church camp in Kashmir, Doug and I visited a nearby Buddhist monastery. As we walked in the door we saw a big sign that said “Welcome Back”. A monk explained that we had already visited that location many, many times before. We had been there in previous lives, and here we were again. It didn’t make much sense then, but I am starting to get it now.