Buster Douglas: Shelby County loses a star

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By The Staff

"Buster knew everybody in the world, and everybody knew Buster," said Roy Lyons of his friend Carl "Buster" Douglas, who died Sunday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 55.

Douglas made friends easily, and he remembered everything and everyone, said Kristian Ruble, co-owner of Re/Max Performance Realty where Douglas worked for more than 6 years.

"Suit up and show up," was his motto, Ruble said.

During staff meetings, Douglas encouraged co-workers with that motto. "I'll always treasure that," she said.

A 1972 graduate of Shelby County High School, Douglas was a standout athlete. He lettered all four years in football, playing fullback and middle linebacker.

"He ate, breathed and slept football," recalled Lyons of their years playing football together. “Buster was the emotional leader on the team.”

Lyons’ close friendship with Douglas continued after those high school days were done, and the two frequently attended Shelby County games as adults.

"Buster was not afraid of anything," Lyons said.

He told of a time when the Shelby County played rival Eminence, Eminence had a star player, Ray "Rock" Henderson, against whom Douglas insisted on carrying the ball.

Lyons, the quarterback, did give the ball to Douglas on one particular play. When Douglas and Henderson hit each other, it "sounded like two pickups hitting," Lyons said.

Both players were "knocked out cold as a wedge." Henderson came to first, then Douglas, who had a gash over each eyebrow.

After being stitched up by team physician, Dr. Ron Waldridge, Douglas was back in the game.

Douglas continued his love of football by working as a commentator on WXLN-FM radio, calling SCHS games.

"He enjoyed doing radio, following them [the team] and encouraging them," Lyons said.

Douglas enjoyed his life and friendships up to the very end. He had dinner Saturday evening with his close friend, Joe O'Brien. Douglas had recently joined O'Brien’s Ford dealership to make service adjustments.

"He had amazing people skills," said O'Brien, who also attended church with Douglas at Southeast Christian Church.

The two had attended weekend spiritual retreats at Notre Dame, where they shared non-denominational fellowship and instruction. "He had a good Christian life. He had a good relationship with the Lord," O'Brien said.

After their meal, coffee and dessert Saturday night, O'Brien told Douglas he would see him at church on Sunday. Because Douglas many times had attended an earlier service, O'Brien thought nothing of not seeing Douglas that morning.

When he got the call Sunday afternoon that Douglas had died peacefully during his sleep, he said, "I was just shocked."

Douglas is survived by his wife, Carolyn, three daughters, his mother, a brother and three grandchildren. The funeral is 2 p.m. Thursday at Hall-Taylor Funeral Home. Visitation will be 2-8 p.m. today at the funeral home.

O'Brien and so many other friends and family will miss Douglas. As O'Brien said: "Buster's looking down on all of us and glad that he got to spend time with us."