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Doug Willoughby

Doug Willoughby, husband, son, brother, and blueprint of bravery. Doug got his life cut many years ago with a brain injury, but he used his time left by being the hero of his own story. In his 61 years, he achieved almost everything, including a great sense of compassion and tenderness. He left an unforgettable mark on everybody with his quiet and dignified way of carrying his pain to the end, specially his last two years of life.

He died at the Vancouver General Hospital with her beloved wife Miralda and his niece by his side, the afternoon of Thursday, February 10, 2022. Doug will be missed by his beloved mother Reta, his brother Ron, his friends from university and beyond, who enriched his days throughout his life.


William Douglas Willoughby was born in December 17, 1960 in Toronto. His mother, Reta Willoughby, and brother, Ron Willoughby, live in Toronto, and his wife lives in Vancouver.  He passed away in February 10th, at the Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver BC. His friends, wife and family will miss him dearly.

In 2011, Doug suffered a brain infection that put him in a coma. The infection, which originated in his mouth, had unfortunately gone undetected by his dentist who Doug had visited prior to his ultimately ending up in critical care. After getting out of the hospital, he struggled for a number of years to get back on his feet. He almost got there. However, a year ago he was diagnosed with ALS (likely a result of his brain infection) that was further complicated when he contracted COVID. His last days were not easy. That said, he was able to pass away in peace, surrounded by the people he loved.

Doug studied at the University of British Columbia where he received two degrees, one in philosophy and the other in architecture. He liked to paint, write, and I think he played the guitar beautifully. In his youth he played music in pop rock groups, did mountaineering, free-style rock-climbing and he was a scuba-diver. For him, climbing the nearby mountains was a kind of spiritual encounter. Doug was a naturally charismatic man who attracted many people of different interests and backgrounds.Although he often flouted social conventions, certainly had a peculiar sense of humour, but, in his distinct way, he was kind and generous to those with which he was friends.

His first couple of gigs as a young architect yielded excellent work. He began to make money rapidly. Approximately two years before he went to that fateful dentist’s appointment, he started his own construction company – which was a success. Things appeared to be on the rise. But alas, in 2011, as one may imagine, being comatose his hopes, health and future were suddenly all put on hold and very close to being entirely dashed. Still, although faced with crushing adversity – the loss of his livelihood, his passion, suffering certain physical and mental incapacity – he was not deterred. Doug set forth fighting to recover and to be as active as he possibly could. Until a few years ago, he frequented the gym and showed much mental acuity. But, as fate would have it, once life seemed to have finally stabilized, the pandemic came and ruined everything. His health rapidly worsened.

For me, his life is a wonderful example of how to live. I have never seen a braver person. He lived through grave illness with such dignity. He never complained of pain or discomfort. For everyone around him he always had a joke, a word of good humour, and most of all, a lot of tenderness. He was a loveable fellow that was loved by many. May he rest in peace. May the strength of Doug’s ability to suffer in quiet along with his bulletproof optimism serve to transform us.

Condolence Messages

  1. Sophia Kopelow

    09 May 2022 5 months ago

    I recently heard of Doug’s passing, and I wanted to express my condolences to Miralda and the rest of his family. I was very sad to hear the news, and I’m so sorry for your loss. It was a privilege and a pleasure to get to know and support Doug throughout our work together. His resilience was inspiring, and I will always remember his compassion and sense of humour despite everything he was going through (not to mention his impressive art skills!).

    Sending my thoughts and well wishes,

  2. Miralda willoughby

    08 May 2022 5 months ago

    Doug, love of my life, you were the best thing that ever happened to me. I think of your company as a song, whose melody will forever be with me. I loved you deeply and I will never forget you.

    There will be a celebration of your life at a later date.

  3. Elizabeth Montgomery

    11 April 2022 6 months ago

    Dear Miralda,

    I just learned about Doug passing. My sincere condolences to you and family. I will always remember him as a generous soul, an artist and the man who was as talented in painting as you are. May his soul rests on peace along with the divine energy of God!

  4. Rebecca Wood Barrett

    26 March 2022 6 months ago

    Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of Doug. He was a smart, funny and creative man, and I look back on the time we shared as a special chapter in my life.

    Doug and I worked together with a whole crew of architects and builders in Whistler in the early 2000s. Since we were in a studio layout in the office, we all worked very closely together. At times it was a high stress workplace, and we all found ways to blow off steam and have some laughs. Doug was the instigator for a lot of the hijinks.

    He really did love to play practical jokes, some of which are not fit for print here. He often took full advantage of our new Apple computers’ capabilities. Doug would program the computer to say rude things to you when you hit certain key strokes. You never knew when it was coming, with a computerized female voice saying, “oooohhh ahhhhh, thank you” or “Thomas you’re my hero” – which would break the silence of architects tapping away on their keyboards and have us all cracking up.

    There was one time Doug took a screenshot of my desktop, and put it on my computer as the desktop picture. When I clicked on the icons none of them opened because they were a screenshot, and not actual icons. I’d be clicking away and restarting my computer with everybody else laughing. Back in those days computers would crash if you sneezed so you never quite knew if it was a legit bug or somebody’s (Doug’s) practical joke.

    Another time Doug took a picture of the back of one of the staff’s heads – Thomas, I think – and put it on his computer monitor as the screenshot. With the high-backed office chair sitting in front of the monitor, at a glance it did look like Thomas was sitting there, working. The next morning when I was alone in the office when Wayne – another architect – came in early. He obviously hadn’t had his coffee yet, and greeted both Thomas and me. “Who are you talking to, Wayne?” I asked. Wayne turned around and saw, from a different angle, that there was no one sitting in Thomas’s chair. So Doug didn’t get to see the results of that joke but I enjoyed every second of it.

    Doug enjoyed his music and playing guitar. We used to take turns putting our favourite CDs into the stereo player or listening to the radio. Doug loved Frank Zappa and other eclectic musicians. He disdained the cliche in life, and that probably influenced my own quirky tastes in some ways. I remember there was one Top 40 song that would frequently come on the radio that he particularly disliked. Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. Who could blame him? It had inane lyrics like “All that glitters is gold, Only shooting stars break the mold.” When it came on you could just about set your watch to Doug’s reaction. He would stop working, turn around with a disgruntled look on his face and say very sloooowly, “Must we rock?”

    It was the really early days of the meme (the modern usage of the word hadn’t been coined yet) and we’d look up weird web sites and one of our favourites was Cat Scan, a site where people scanned their cats’ furry butts sitting on a scanner. Life was never boring with Doug around.

    Our crew would frequently go for adventures in the mountains, downhill skiing or cross-country skiing around Lost Lake, or for hikes on alpine trails. It was the balm to our long hours in front of computer screens. Doug was a great friend and I was especially happy that he met Miralda, a truly artistic soul with a warm and generous heart.

    I’m sad that Doug was dealt a series of terrible blows. It seemed so unfair. We did connect again after his brain injury and I was grateful his quirky sense of humour was intact. Rest in peace, dear Doug, I trust you are walking in the hills and playing your guitar and smiling, waiting for us to catch up with you.

    xx Rebecca (Becky) Wood Barrett

  5. Linda Griffiths

    23 March 2022 6 months ago

    Dear Miralda, Reta and Ron,
    My deepest sympathies for all of you. I love that you have put this book together for us to share memories. Doug must have been brave. He never breathed a word on the occasions he emailed those of us from his old Don Mills days. We were quite a tribe back in the day and our friendship with Doug endured the long distance when he moved to Vancouver. He was a huge part of the glue. A gang of us skied Whistler, with Doug setting us all up to stay at a UBC chalet for students. It was awesome and a huge hot tub for the apres ski every evening. He organized coffee on the sunny side of the streets in Kitsilano for Steve, Heather and myself when I was in town. We worked together with Russ, Steve and Heather (the Don Mills gang) at Jasper Park Lodge where Doug cut a handsome profile on his service bike and black tux looking work outfit to take cocktails to the cabin guests. He enjoyed playing his guitar there as well in a beautiful log cabin meant for entertaining the hundreds of staff who lived on the JPL grounds in barrack like quarters. He loved to perform! He loved to hike on days off. I’ve pictures of a three day mountain pass backpacking hike with him and Steve that is a highlight of my younger years. I also remember our trip to Quebec City to ski Mount St. Anne one New Years (myself, Steve, Russ and Doug). The greyhound bus loaded all us 20/21 yr olds up in TO and no one told us there was no snow on the mountain. We had a week to wander around old Quebec City in the freezing rain (with little money), test our french (lol), drink cheap wine, beer, make new friends and sample the french onion soup in every little eatery along our paths (we had to buy something). In many ways, given our early friendship, I consider Doug the older brother I never had. He and his wit, humour and always intriguing philosophical discussions shaped who I am today and will forever be missed. May you Rest In Peace big guy!
    Linda of the Don Mills Gang

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