Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Doug Speck 1948-2010
Douglas Gary Speck, was called by our Lord on Thursday, March 4, 2010, at age 62, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Doug's battle with melanoma epitomized the character and qualities he showed throughout his life: unwavering loyalty and commitment to family, friends, and colleagues; deep inner strength in confronting the many challenges of life; profound courage in the face of adversity; and an abiding respect for anyone and everyone who touched his life, regardless of position or status. Through out the difficult times he never lost sight of what was most important to him: the love and care of those who were close to him. To those who knew him, Doug's life was no brief candle, but rather a splendid torch which he made burn as brightly as possible, before handing it on to future generations. Doug was born in North Dakota on October 16, 1947 and moved to California with his family in 1948. He graduated from Eagle Rock High School, Pasadena City College, and California State Polytechnic University (Pomona), before earning a master's degree in education from Azusa Pacific University. After his family, his passion in life was educating the minds and bodies of California's youth. He began his career in the early 1970's, teaching history and other subjects at Channel Islands High School and Hueneme High School, before moving on to Arcadia High School, where he spent the rest of his career. He retired in 2007 after a distinguished thirty-five year career in education. Recognizing that a healthy mind needs a healthy body, Doug maintained a daily physical fitness regimen throughout his career and into his retirement, and could be seen each day riding his bicycle on the bike path in the South Bay. In the realm of physical fitness, Doug preached what he practiced: he coached both cross country and track throughout his teaching career, rising to become one of the leaders in the administration of interscholastic athletics in California. Doug's achievements in advancing the cause of high school track and field a re legendary. His contributions were instrumental in the early development of the Arcadia Invitational, the premiere in-season high school track and field event in the United States. He ultimately became the Invitational's Meet Director, and after his tenure in that position he remained connected to the event for the rest of his life. The Invitational became what it is today -- a meet which has produced 24 national high school records and has sent 125 meet alumni to represent the United States in the Olympic Games -- in no small part due to Doug's tireless efforts. In 1987, Doug was named "Consultant to Juniors" by USA Track & Field, the nation's governing body for the sport. Doug held that position for the next twelve years, and his energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the cause of high school track and field resulted in a notable improvement in the number and quality of American high school athletes advancing to the World Junior Championships. Locally, Doug served on several high school advisory committee4 Esc for cross country and track, and was active in advancing legislation supported by the California Interscholastic Federation and other student-athlete organizations. Doug was influential in the world of track writing and announcing. From the time he became a coach he wrote extensively for California Track and Running News. He was also widely recognized as California's foremost announcer at high school track and field meets, having pioneered the collection of detailed biographical information and the delivery of fully-researched introductions for the competing athletes. According to many veteran observers, Doug's careful, detailed, and caring biographical introductions, coupled with his knowledgeable and enthusiastic race calls, provided competing athletes with an extra mental and emotional edge that contributed to the breaking of dozens of national records over the years. Doug was also deeply involved with the National Scholastic Sports Foundation, an organization dedicated to the support of junior age and high school track and field. He also contributed generously to the Nike Outdoor Nationals, Nike Cross Nationals, and Kinney/Footlocker Nationals. In the late 1980s, Doug was among the first to see the enormous potential of the Internet, and he set out to master the new technology. He developed his own web site and transformed the way people accessed California track and cross country information. In an effort to broaden the scope of coverage, Doug then teamed up with Rich Gonzalez to create DyeStatCal , one of the two most heavily visited web-based high school track and field resources in the nation. Doug's knack for technology encompassed all areas of his life; his photographic and videographer talents were constantly on display, whether he was reporting on the best and brightest in high school track, or chronicling every significant family event - from weddings to birthdays to holidays to births - through the use of the latest and greatest technological equipment. To recognize Doug's unique and long- lasting influence on high school cross country and track, the National Scholastic Sports Foundation established the Doug Speck Award for Excellence and Innovation, of which Doug himself was the inaugural recipient shortly before his passing. Accepting the award that was named after him while facing his own mortality, Doug epitomized the true sportsman by commenting that he had "enjoyed the battle" with his illness. When word of his passing spread, several hundreds from all walks of Doug's life friended the Facebook page that had been established to commemorate him, and many who knew and loved Doug adorned their running shoes with the initials "D.S.," in loving tribute to their mentor, colleague, friend, and coach. Doug's lifetime commitment to the improvement of mind and body inspired those around him to achieve their best. Among those most motivated by Doug's quiet determination to excel were the two persons of whom Doug was most proud, his daughters Kerri and Jennifer. Thanks to the example set by their father Doug, both Kerri and Jennifer have pursued successful professional careers after obtaining college and post-graduate degrees at elite educational institutions. Doug also formed a special bond with his granddaughters Maggie, age seven, and Esme, age one; he was their "grandpa" and their hero. Doug shared the last decade of his life with his beloved Leslie, in a relationship marked by simple living, heartfelt devotion, and mutual love. Throughout their many adventures, they never lost sight of what was most important -- each other. Doug will be deeply missed by his loving family: his mother, Gertrude Speck of San Dimas; his father Dale Speck of Rancho Mirage, and Dale's wife Margie; his former wife and the mother of Kerri and Jennifer, Kathy Speck of Wrightwood; Leslie Paoletti of El Segundo; his brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Sheila Speck of Boulder Creek; his daughters Kerri Speck of Los Angeles and Jennifer Speck Perkins of Pasadena; his sons-in law Paul Marks and Jeffery Perkins; his granddaughers Maggie and Esme; his niece Heather and nephew Jason and wife Hilary. He is preceded in death by Andy, Doug and Leslie's beloved rabbit. A memorial service to celebrate Doug's life is being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Angeles Clinic Foundation, 2001 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 560W, Santa Monica, California.