Last Friday, our hearts were broken. Many of us received such unbelievable news, unbearable news, from a phone call network of friends. We were stunned. We cried, we ached. We could not comprehend the news we heard. Our dear friends Doug and Beckie were gone. They had a long list of golfing friends and acquaintances from Hidden Valley Country Club and the devastating news was relayed from friend to friend. People were not being gossipy, they were dumbfounded, they sought understanding, they sought answers, they sought solace and they sought closure.
Over the last ten years, my wife Sharon and I have had many golf rounds and dinners with Doug and Beckie. We have been at their house in Salt Lake and their home in Palm Desert. They have been to our houses here and in Palm Desert. By and large, their friends were our friends and our friends were their friends.
Beckie had a long association with the ladies at Hidden Valley where she was involved with golf, with bridge and with an investment club. She had been the president of the Hidden Valley Ladies Association. For most of her life Beckie had been active in many things, socially and as an owner and operator of small businesses.
Beckie was tough. You could not push her around. But she had a soft and gentle side as well. Nearly 10 years ago, a time before I married Sharon, I needed a ride to St. George. Sharon was in St. George at a ladies golf tournament or some other ladies activity. I was still courting Sharon and she told me to come down to St. George on the weekend. I did not want to take my own car since Sharon had her car with her. I wanted to be able to ride back to Salt Lake with her at the end of the weekend. I wanted to ride home with her and convince her I was the guy for her. Beckie heard that I was looking for a ride to St. George and she called me. She asked me to ride down with her since she was heading down for the weekend. I cannot tell you what an enjoyable four hours we had. We talked non-stop about lives and loves and work and friends. We talked about golf. We talked about life changes and we walked about family and friends.
Beckie was the boss at her house. She told Doug what to do in all matters and he did them. If you asked Doug to do something or to go somewhere, whether you were asking just him or asking him for the both of them, he would always respond with, “I have to ask the apple of my eye and then I will get back to you.”
She made the house decisions, the business decisions and the family decisions. Not so different from many of us men, whose most frequent phrase is “Yes Dear”.
Doug Boudreaux. If you just said his name, people had a response, they had an image. They had a visceral reaction. For some people it was a good response, for some it was not so good. Those people did not know the inner Doug. For his friends, the words “Doug Boudreaux” made us smile. We seldom called him Doug whether we were talking to him or talking about him. To us, he was “Boudie”.
How many times on the driving range or in the clubhouse did I hear his pals say things like:
“Is Boudie playing today”?
“Where is Boudie?”
“Did you hear what Boudie said on Thursday?”
I met Boudie in 1988 or 1989. Boudie, Gordon Staker, Guy Toombes and I formed the “Staker Group”. For the first few years it was not much of a group. It was just the four of us who played golf together a couple of times a week. We were truly friends. Over the years the Staker Group expanded, it contracted and it expanded again. Currently there are some 20 men who are either full time or part time members of the Staker Group. The Staker Group is just about diverse as a group can be. Our members are contactors, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, business men, psychologists and real estate professionals. We are Caucasians, Asians, Greeks, and Hispanic. We are made up of Mormons, Catholics Protestants and the anti-religious. Our group includes Mormon Bishops and recovering alcoholics.
Boudie was a fixture in the group. If you were in the Staker Group you have been insulted by Boudie more times than you can count. You insulted him back as many times. As bizarre as it seems, the love for each other was expressed in many ways, man hugs and compliments but particularly in insults. We worried about each other, our wives and our children.
When one of our Staker Group members lost a baby just after birth, it was Doug who talked to him. It was Doug who talked about the afterlife with him.
As most of you know, Doug and Beckie lived on the 8th hole of the Valley Nine at Hidden Valley. If Doug was not playing with us on a particular day, we would hit our tee ball and then head over to his yard, walk through his gate and sit on his patio. We would call out for him to come out and join us on his patio. Over time it came to feel like our patio. Doug and Beckie would come out and sit with us and we would talk for awhile as other golfers passed us by, no doubt wondering why there were golf balls on or near the green. Most of the time the passing golfers just left our balls where they were and we would eventually finished the hole. Doug and Beckie would offer us a cocktail, a soda pop or a glass of ice water. Whatever we wanted they would give it to us. Sometimes if Doug was not at home, Beckie would come out and listened to our jokes and lies. She would roll her eyes and laugh at us. One day, we had sat there for four or five minutes but had not yet seen or heard Doug or Beckie inside the house. Finally, we heard Beckie’s voice through the open window. She said “Doug you better get out there, I don’t think they are going away.” The door opened and there was Doug with his smile, saying “Can I get you boys something?”
Doug, had a skill, a God given talent if you will, to say a word, a phrase or a comment that was either hilarious or disgusting or both. Over the years some of his comments became legendary. His comments became known as “Boudieisms”. There were stories about shop goggles. There were stories about Doug telling a single golfer who inquired about joining our players on the first tee that Doug did not need any more friends. He told the fellow he had enough friends and he didn’t like most of them. The fellow just turned and walked away. The general problem with the Staker Group is that we enjoy the disgusting stuff a lot. We repeated it. We told his stuff to others. Sometimes we claimed a Boudieism statement as our own. Each of us has our own special Boudieisms. Most of the Boudieisms are best left for the golf course or for sitting around the patio with our pals.
On last Saturday morning at 7:30 am, members of the Staker Group gathered on the first tee of Hidden Valley golf course with drivers in our hand and tears in our eyes. It was the appointed time for the regular Saturday game. We took off our hats and listened to the mournful prayer of one of our Bishop members. Golf was not too important that day.
On Sunday September 25th, the Staker Group gathered together at Gordon’s house to celebrate Doug, to celebrate our friend. We repeated Boudieisms that cannot be said here. We laughed and we cried. We gave man hugs throughout the evening. We listened to another prayer for Doug and for Beckie, for their children, for their grandchildren and for their friends. We sang Amazing Grace, off key to be sure, but this simple song was sung with conviction and emotion by some 13 saddened men. As the sun set, we quieted down and softly spoke of Doug and how we would miss him. I think our gathering together helped each of us a little. If Doug had been there he would have had us laughing. As for me, as I drove away in my car, my tears had dried but the ache in my heart remained.
The passing of Doug and Beckie has shaken each of us to our core. I think we each have asked ourselves if we could have said something or done something that might have changed events. We will never know. We will forever wonder “What if?”
Neither Doug nor Beckie were perfect people. They made errors and mistakes and in some instances bad life choices. Just as each of us are not perfect persons. Each of us has made countless errors, mistakes and bad life choices. But they were good people. They were good friends. They loved their children and their grandchildren. They were loved by their friends. I am proud to call them my friends. They are forever a part of my life. They are interwoven in the fabric of my life. My memories of times together will stay with me. I will remember them in life, I will miss them dearly.