STAMFORD, Conn. -- Whether you have grown up in Stamford, or you are currently living/working in the High Ridge area, you are probably a fan of Dougie White.
If you don’t know who I am referring to, he is built like an ox with bulging calf muscles and he can be seen riding and pushing his bike down busy streets in the area, returning bottles at the A&P on High Ridge Road, or resting at Starbucks.
His loud, booming voice is enough to startle anyone who doesn’t know him and when he says hello or thank you to a female, he always likes to give them a kiss on the cheek. For some, this is very intimidating, but for those of us who know him, understand that is the furthest thing from the truth.
"He doesn’t wear his hearing aids so that is the reason why he seems to be yelling,'' said Dougie’s nephew, Matt.
Growing up in the Turn of River area, I have known Dougie my entire life. In my younger days, I would see him daily any time of the year. He liked to stop by to say hello when we were out playing in the streets. He knew my name as well as all the other kids in the neighborhood.
He would show up at my house to play basketball and would rarely miss a shot. He would talk about the weather, update us on the latest Brady Brunch episode or sing a short song like the theme from "Green Acres."
“He is a frequent flyer at my home in the nicer weather ... stopping by for bottles, a cold drink and at times a snack,'' said Tara Ormond O'Brien. "Dougie is truly an icon in the High Ridge area. I grew up knowing Dougie and now my children have."
Dougie was born on Feb. 13, 1946 and is 68 years old. He is currently under the care of his nephew Matt and is still living in the house he grew up in. He lost both of his parents and a year and half ago he lost his aunt ,who was his caregiver after his parents passed.
“Dougie is mine now,'' said Matt, with a very proud look on his face and a smile. While there this no official diagnosis for Dougie, doctors basically said that he would always have the mind of a young child. However, Matt doesn’t fully agree with them. He said, “Dougie is actually very safety conscious and his level of thinking is higher than doctor’s predicted."
In year’s past, Dougie would go to ARI (Always Reaching for Independence) to work. As time went on, it was decided that it was time for him to retire. But retirement didn’t stop Dougie from continuing on his daily regimen, riding his bike, collecting cans and various other items. However, he has slowed down a bit and a doctor told Matt that he needed to take Dougie’s bike away because it wasn’t good for his feet and ankles to be riding anymore. So he did and he gave him a cart instead.
“Everyone was like, I can’t believe you took Dougie’s bike away! But, I was just following the doctor’s orders,'' Matt said. He also said one day while shopping he got a call from his son who told him that two women showed up at their house and dropped off a new bike for Dougie. By the time he got home, the women were gone and Dougie was so happy, he didn’t have the heart to take it away from him.
“It’s not like he needed a new bike, but it was nice that someone did that for him. I don’t know who they were and I never got to say thank you to them.” Matt said
The family appreciates the generosity of the Stamford community. Unfortunately, while there are many who love Dougie, there have been some people over the year’s who have not treated him well and this behavior still continues today from people young and old. I can’t tell you how many times I have come to his defense and I know others who have done so as well.
My hope in writing this article is to shed some light on this warmhearted man is and unravel the mystery of “Dougie” so that the next time you see him, you will have a better understanding of the ‘gentle giant” we have all come to know and love. Happy Birthday Dougie! Wishing you many more happy, healthy years to come!
Robyn Blosio Bova is a Stamford native and a Realtor for Higgins Group.