On January 19, 2021 the world lost a good man. William Douglas (Doug) Rivers passed away peacefully under the wonderful care of the staff at Parkwood Institute in London, Ontario. Doug was in his 89th year. Beloved husband of Mary Eileen Rivers (Jeffery), dear father to daughters Barbara (Ben), Cathy (Rob) and loved grandfather of Paul, Lisa, Travis (Amanda) and William (Majse). Doug was a tremendous example for all, conducting himself with a quiet grace. He was unwavering in his ethics, had a rare ability to see the good in all people, and had a great sense of humour, qualities that were admired and respected by everyone who knew him. “Do what’s right and do what’s good” sums up Doug. Doug was born in Exeter, Ontario, the son of Bruce and Helen (Ladd) Rivers. He worked in the family grocery store in Exeter where he quickly demonstrated his entrepreneurial spirit. Rumor has it that while working at the grocery store, he connected with the military. You see, the local regiment trained in the area and marched a route throughout Exeter. As the soldiers marched past the storefront, Doug would open the store’s window, and sell the soldiers ice cream cones! During this time, Doug also raised Leghorn chickens and sold the eggs at the store.
Not too long after Eileen appeared on the scene, the couple married on June 4, 1951. They moved to London where Doug began his career working for the newly-minted Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (OHIP), dedicating 25 years of service to OHIP. The real estate field enticed Doug and Eileen to purchase properties in the London area where Doug became a mortgage broker, serving clients in Southwestern Ontario. His passion for boating developed from an early age. When he was just a young boy, he built himself a boat to ply the surrounding waterways of Exeter. As time went on, this love of being on the water grew – as did the size of the boats! The family enjoyed many years on Lake Huron where Doug’s passion for boating provided great enjoyment. The couple bought property in Port Lambton along the St. Clair River where boating was a lifestyle they enjoyed for 15 years before moving back to London to be closer to their family. Doug loved cars and had some real beauties over the years. One day, he showed up in a dark blue, spotlessly-clean 1979 Corvette. He and Eileen looked like they were made for the ‘Vette. When Doug got talking about cars in his life, he would, without hesitation, regale nearby listeners with the list of cars that he had owned over his lifetime. It was quite a list!
Doug was a terrific story teller and possessed a rare attention to detail, which he wove into his stories. His memory was incredible as he recounted stories about life in a small town, complete with detailed accounts of the characters involved, tales of travels with Eileen, etc. Even his accounts of what would seem mundane to some were told with humour and style that was always interesting and entertaining. Doug and Eileen also enjoyed travel, and seized opportunities to visit Florida frequently as well as Spain, France, Switzerland and Hawaii, with their most recent trip being a driving tour of Canada’s east coast.
Until recently, Doug continued working as a mortgage broker, helping clients with their financial needs. The mortgage business and real estate continued to be Doug’s passion all along. He had an incredible aptitude for numbers and knew how to handle money. He could be seen frequently working out complex deals on a restaurant napkin, or on the back of an envelope – this was a natural thing for Doug. His passion for the business and his consistent desire to help people find solutions to their financial problems drove him to succeed where others might not have. As a mortgage broker, one of the pearls of wisdom Doug repeated often was to “buy land, especially waterfront land – they’re not making any more.” Sage advice! Of all the things Doug will be remembered for, the one trait that jumps to everyone’s mind is his compassion for all living things. He always saw the good in everyone and believed all people were fundamentally decent, honest beings who deserved respect.
He loved animals, especially dogs – Maggie Muggins, Tiny, Sasha, Brandy, Bogie and Lilly to name a few. Dogs were always by his side, no matter the occasion and he cared for them deeply. When he and Eileen went to a restaurant, they always parked in front of a window and sat in plain view of the car, so they could see their dog. And when the meal was over, he always had a portion of the meal wrapped up in a napkin for the lucky dog.
Keeping with Doug’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A private family graveside service will be held at the Exeter Cemetery at a later date. The entire family is deeply appreciative of the exceptional care and compassion extended to Doug by the medical team at Parkwood Institute. If desired, donations to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation – Palliative Care Program or the Humane Society London & Middlesex would be appreciated by the family.