Cover photo for Douglas B. Smith's Obituary
Douglas B. Smith Profile Photo

Douglas B. Smith

d. October 18, 2023

Douglas B. Smith

Douglas B. Smith of Milton died peacefully, surrounded by his family, on October 18, 2023, at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was 62.

Doug was born on March 3, 1961, to the late Daniel William Clint Smith and the late Shirley Ann (Ricketts) Winer. For the past 30 years, Doug was the beloved husband of Suzanne Owens of Milton. He was the devoted father of Isabelle, Rosalind, and Caleb Smith, all of Milton. Doug was the dear brother of Mandeliene Smith and her husband, Livingston Parsons, of Lexington, and Emily Smith-Lee and her husband, Robert Lee, of Sharon. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, and friends.

Doug was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. When he was four years old, his parents bought a farm in the town of Chester, MA, which became a second home and a lifelong source of comfort and happiness. A defining event of Doug’s childhood was his father’s death from cancer when he was 12 years old, a loss which influenced Doug in myriad ways throughout his lifetime. Doug and his sisters were raised by their fiercely determined mother to be hard working, independent people. In their teenage years, she kept the family together through daily horseback riding after school in a rural suburb outside New Haven. Every summer, the whole family (and the horses) returned to the farm in Chester, where they spent July and August riding and working on projects together. Doug was always an avid reader; as a teen he would often go to used book stores and buy a box of books at a time. Doug went on to graduate with a BA in English Literature from Yale University, where he also spent two years as the captain of the polo team. His love of language led him to then attend Oxford University, where he earned a BA, Literae Humaniores in Greek and Latin.

After graduating, Doug moved to New York City, where he met Suzanne in 1989. They bonded over literature doing side-work in the kitchen of the restaurant where they worked. In 1990, he moved to the farmhouse in Chester, living there for several years without electricity, and heating with only a wood stove. It was during this time that Doug decided to revive his father’s tradition of maple sugaring. This involved doing some of the things that he loved the most: spending time in nature, wielding a chainsaw, and figuring out how to make complex systems work efficiently. It also became a catalyst for the family to work together again. For the past 30 years, an expanding cast of siblings, spouses, children, significant others, cousins and friends have trekked out to the farm every weekend from February to April to tap the trees, collect the sap buckets, and hang out around the evaporator in the sugar house, telling stories and laughing.

Family was the center of Doug’s life. He was very engaged with his children and his nieces and nephews – collaborating on projects, teaching new skills, or letting them use him as a human jungle gym.  He and Suzanne planted an ever-changing garden in the home they shared for 30 years, and Doug fought a yearly battle with rabbits to grow his own vegetables. He loved to cook, and was always exploring recipes of different cultures. He and Suzanne hosted many of the holiday parties for their large extended family, with Doug cooking elaborate meals while everyone crowded in the kitchen to talk with him about politics, culture, books, work, school, and relationships.

Living in England had sparked Doug’s love of travel, and he had spent his school breaks traveling around Europe, visiting Greece, Turkey, Italy, and France. Doug would plan yearly trips for himself and his growing family, eventually visiting half of the U.S. states, five Canadian provinces, England, Italy, France, Ireland, and Costa Rica. Using his excellent researching skills, the trips would be a well-planned balance of culture and nature, art museums and hikes.  One of Doug’s favorite activities, since they were old enough to walk, was taking Isabelle, Rosalind, and Caleb on what he called “wanders,” uncharted adventures exploring the urban landscape. He also took them on many camping trips throughout New England, and taught them to love the adventure of backpacking.

Doug spent his career working in educational publishing. In 1994, he started working as an editor at Houghton Mifflin, where he worked for 13 years, before leaving to become the Editorial Director at Baseline Development Group. In 2009, Doug began working as a Director for Digital Product Development at Magic Software, which was based in New Delhi, and gave him the opportunity to travel to India – one of his favorite trips. For the last 13 years, Doug has worked at Curriculum Associates in Billerica, where his most recent position was Associate Vice President of Digital ELA Instruction. He was proud of his contribution to the education of children, and valued the teams he helped create and mentor.

Doug was a writer all his life. He completed his first novel, The Inexquisite Eye, in 1997. Since then, he worked on a second novel, wrote short stories, essays, and poetry. He recently had pieces published in Under the Gum Tree and Hippocampus, including the story “Do You Know What I Keep Thinking About?” Doug spent the last years of his life working on a memoir, and posting excerpts on his blog, “Two Sides of a Lifetime.” It chronicles his experience of both his father’s death, and his own battle with cancer for the past six years. Doug wrote honestly about the lasting effects of losing someone he loved, and both the struggles of being sick and of being the person his family was going to lose. An excerpt from the memoir, entitled “The last thing my father told me,” was recently published in The Boston Globe’s “Ideas” section.

Doug will be buried in the family cemetery on the hill at the farm he loved, next to his parents.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to greet the family during the visiting hours on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, from 3-7 PM in the Keohane Funeral Home, 785 Hancock St., QUINCY.

Doug’s memorial service and burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent in Doug’s name to Hilltown Land Trust, 332 Bullitt Rd., Ashfield, MA 01330 or by clicking here. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Douglas B. Smith, please visit our flower store.

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