By SHERIDAN ROY
Past and current Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA members gathered at YMCA Camp Sloper on Saturday, July 20 to celebrate the life of former executive director Doug McLeod, who passed away almost one year ago.
Family and friends of McLeod gathered at the memorial forest at Camp Sloper, nearby a bench dedicated to McLeod. Up at the McLeod Pavilion, a newly planted memorial tree for the former director will help them remember him.
“I had the opportunity to visit Doug a year ago,” said current chief executive officer of the SCCYMCA Mark Pooler at the memorial ceremony. “It was a special visit. At the time, I hadn’t gotten this job yet, but I was hopeful to get it. He offered me some wonderful advice: be honest, be kind, allow your people to make mistakes, love everyone, don’t give up on people, and have fun.”
Pooler said he is grateful for McLeod’s guidance and his wisdom.
Former SCCYMCA CEO John Myers, who retired last year, recalled the “Doug and B.C.” era—“before computers.” In true-to-Doug fashion, Myers read off of index cards.
“When I started at the YMCA, I was at the Berlin-Kensington YMCA, and I was always hearing about the Southington YMCA and how innovative they were,” said Myers. “And, I heard that they had the best executive director around, and that was Doug.”
McLeod called the Southington YMCA “the mecca,” and made staff and members proud to be there, Myers said.
“He was so impactful on all of our lives,” Myers said. “He taught us how to lift people up, how to care, and how to be a family here.”
Scott McLeod, son of Doug, thanked everyone for gathering at Camp Sloper—a place Scott said was very important to his father.
He recalled his father’s dedication to his job and to the YMCA, to the point where it was common to find him sleeping at the dining room table on a stack of work-related papers and folders.
“He was a dedicated director and worker,” said Scott. “As a leader and director, he told me to never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”
Scott said his father was committed, competitive, honest, and fair. He was a learner, and loved to read, explore, research and debate.
“He loved an argument,” he said. “He was also an entertainer. He would take any opportunity he could to tell a story.”
Following the memorial ceremony, family and friends of McLeod made their way up to the McLeod Pavilion for a picnic.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.