Family mourns loss of kind-hearted man

Doug Dussman, 45, remembered as chivalrous, adventurous, protective of those he loved

Doug Dussman was a kind, caring, fun-loving person who loved animals and his family, those close to him said. And he had been that way since he was a small boy.

"Everybody loved Doug," his younger brother, Luke, said. "He was always laughing, always telling a joke. People enjoyed being around him."

Doug was never judgmental, so others found spending time with him a safe space.

"If you were with Doug, you were just present with him," Luke said.

Doug died in August at age 45 from anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest after being stung by multiple bees while doing yard work.

He and his siblings - Luke, older brother John and younger sister Katherine - were all close in age, his mom, Judith Dussman said.

"They were very close and he was always central to that group," she said. "He was not somebody who strove to be the leader or first in anything. I don't know if that's because he was second-born, but we used to say about him he was second to none."

Doug had a sense of adventure that led him and his siblings to do things they weren't supposed to, Judith said, such as walking more than a mile to preschool when the bus didn't pick them up, and riding their bikes from Monroe School to Brookfield Zoo.

"He was fearless," Luke said. "So as a kid growing up, there was nothing that Doug wouldn't do."

The family moved to Hinsdale in 1985 when Doug was 7. He loved all sports, from youth wrestling and Little League to playing ice hockey in the winter at Burns Field.

"He was a good athlete in every sport that he did," his mom said.

A 1995 graduate of Hinsdale Central, where he was co-captain of the wrestling team, Doug went on to attend the College of DuPage.

Katherine said he was the quintessential big brother, always looking out for people. She remembered one time her freshman year when a junior was giving her a hard time and suddenly a frightened look came across his face.

"They're like, 'Oh, no, it's little Dussman,' " she recalled. "For me, I wouldn't have been the little Dussman unless there was a big Dussman, and the big Dussman was Doug. He wasn't a big guy, but he was just a protector."

Doug caddied and then worked for many years at Butler National Golf Club. The golf course was a favorite place to spend time with Doug, Luke said.

"Some of our best memories were probably on the golf course caddying together," he said.

Even as adults, they loved golfing together. Luke remembers one day his 6-month-old son was with him when he went to play with Doug.

"It's always what we could do was go play golf," he said. "If the temperature was above 40 and it wasn't raining, we'd go play golf."

Doug was a chivalrous partner, a caring father and invested family man, said Lara Barouski, with whom he had two children, Douglas, in 2008, and Lillian in 2011.

"He liked to take the train with our son. They would go to the zoo a lot. With him and Douglas, it would be father-son kind of time," Barouski said.

Bringing a smile to Lillian's face meant buying her girly things, Barouski said. The whole family enjoyed visiting Doug's brother in Wisconsin or Barouski's family in Michigan.

Doug had two other children - Arianna Gonzalez and Emma Weeks - from a marriage when he was young. He also is survived by his three grandchildren, two nieces and three nephews.

He wasn't the kind of man who like to call attention to himself, Barouski said.

"In a smaller group setting where he could be more himself, he had a very magnetic personality for sure," she said "People always had a good time around him."

Doug always wanted to help others, his family said.

"Doug was a giving person and he was a helpful person," Judith said. "People didn't have to ask for help for him to help them. He never expected anything in return from anybody."

Luke said he hopes people will remember his brother, no matter what they called him.

"Duss or Dougie or Doug - everybody loved him and everyone wanted to be present with him," Luke said. "Doug was a good guy that everybody really enjoyed being around."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean