Doug Baur, 80, of Lawrence, KS, died Sunday, May 30, 2021, at Neuvant House of Lawrence. He is survived by his wife of almost 57 years, Suzanne (“Sue”) Plummer Baur; daughter Cynthia Gibson, of Greenville, SC; and daughter Christie Peterson, son-in-law Charles Peterson, and granddaughters Zoe Peterson and Kya Peterson, all of Oskaloosa, KS.
Doug was born February 2, 1941 in Erie, PA, the son of Erie attorney Byron A. Baur and Gladys Peyton Perry Baur, eldest sibling of brother, Kent, and sister, Beverly (both lifelong Erie residents, now deceased). Doug’s only first cousin, Marcia (“Twink”) McDowell Webb, currently of St. Augustine, FL, grew up nearby and went through Erie public schools with Doug; she was like a second sister to him.
Growing up, Doug read voraciously, played Contract Bridge, was on the debate team and the honor roll and the student government at Academy High School, and participated in several sports, particularly tennis and swimming, which led to a part-time job life-guarding for the YMCA. The “Y” became an important part of Doug’s early life, and he spent several summers during high school and college leading long-distance canoe trips in upper New York and remote sections of Canada. He was also active in the Order of DeMolay, ultimately serving as its chief officer in Erie.
At Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, Doug graduated on the honor roll with a BA in Economics; there he played varsity tennis and participated in intercollegiate debating, becoming the Allegheny Debate Club president and serving as the President of the state-wide College Debaters’ Conference. As an upperclassman, he served as a freshman dormitory resident counselor while also working (continuing his early commitment to the Y) as Youth Director at the Meadville YMCA.
He received an Air Force ROTC-based honors commission, and used a three-year active-duty educational delay to attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he attained top-level grades while also working a part-time legal research job, as well as serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious University of Pittsburgh Law Review. He went on to graduate first in his law school class, and was selected for membership in the Order of the Coif (the honorary legal fraternity).
While in law school, Doug married his Allegheny College (and life-long) sweetheart, Sue. Upon graduation, after a stint spent clerking for his father’s law firm in Erie, he and Sue drove to Denver, Colorado, where he commenced a career as an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG), with assignments across the United States and in Germany. He rose rapidly, first becoming certified as a Defense Counsel for courts-martial, then as a Military Judge, then as one of the first JAGs to be assigned full-time for the defense of General Courts-Martial nationwide. Finally, he was transferred to Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he represented defendants who had previously been convicted of the most serious of crimes; there he had a record of notable successes before the senior appellate courts.
During this period, while still a Major, Doug was selected by the Judge Advocate General to pursue a full-time Master’s degree in Environmental Law at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Upon attaining that degree, he became the legal specialist serving the Air Force’s primary environmental scientists and technologists, headquartered at Brooks Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. There he worked on many significant environmental issues and projects, all over the country, with impact both in the United States and beyond.
In 1979 Doug was abruptly offered a chance to resign his active-duty commission and transfer into a new, senior-level Civil Service position at the Pentagon. He accepted, and he, Sue, and his daughters moved (for the second time) to Alexandria, VA, and he began his work serving the office of the General Counsel to the Secretary of the Air Force, with national responsibility for environmental legal and policy issues.
For the next 17 years, Doug advised senior Air Force and Department of Defense officials and key staff on the ways in which emerging national environmental statutes and regulations would impact most Federal departments, including military bases. He lectured at many individual bases and at the senior military-staff schools, and consulted with Congressional members and their staffs in both the development of statutes and the implementation of environmental agency regulations. He also represented the Air Force and assisted Department of Justice attorneys in several significant cases affecting critical Air Force programs.
Throughout his Air Force career, Doug was active in the Federal Bar Association (FBA). While at the Pentagon, he served on and chaired key national FBA committees, formally represented the FBA at numerous judicial events, and was ultimately elected President of the FBA’s Pentagon Chapter. He was later elected for three terms as the FBA’s National Vice President for the D.C tri-state area.
While at the Pentagon he served on the editorial board of the Federal Bar Association News and Journal (FBAJ), the national news-and-scholarly monthly publication for lawyers working for, or practicing before, all Federal Courts. Ultimately he was named National Editor of the FBAJ, for two years working toward raising the FBAJ‘s editorial standards, and acquiring a stable of regular columnists writing on important specialist subjects.
One major attraction of the Air Force for Doug was his eligibility for membership in the the USAF Aero Club, which allows Air Force officers access to small planes as well as to flying lessons. Early on he earned his Private Pilot’s license, followed in short order by his Commercial Pilot’s license and his Instrument Rating, and over the next three decades, he used Aero Club planes for official Air Force business as well as for both personal and family flying trips that crisscrossed the United States.
After many years serving the Air Force both in uniform and as a civilian, Doug retired in 1997, and he and Sue embarked on an active and extremely social retirement. They purchased a state-of-the-art custom-built RV and used it to visit their far-flung family and numerous friends (acquired during Doug’s postings around the country and in Europe), traveling throughout the U.S. (including Alaska) and large parts of Canada. He and Sue also spent time in Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, and in the British Isles. (Sue’s English family became a very important part of their lives in these years, as did old friends from Doug and Sue’s years living in Germany.)
Home base during these early retirement years was Charlottesville, Virginia, but in 2008, Doug and Sue’s second daughter, Christie, and her husband, Charles, gave birth to their first child, Zoe, and Doug and Sue once again packed up and moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in order to be engaged, enthusiastic, and very hands-on grandparents to first Zoe, and then Kya, their dearly beloved grandchildren. Over the next several years he and Sue also assisted Christie and Charles with the establishment and running of two separate businesses.
In Lawrence they were extremely active in the Bridge-playing community, playing with several local groups, sometimes as many as five days a week, and served in leadership positions with the Lawrence Bridge Club; Doug, a lifetime tennis aficionado, took up pickleball, and, in his rare “spare” time, relished returning to the voracious reading he had enjoyed as a child.
Doug was afflicted with Alzheimer’s in his last years (as Sue’s father, coincidentally, had also been). Providentially, his family was able to provide him comfort and ease throughout his final months (as much as is possible in the face of that horrible disease), and his final days were spent in peace and painlessness, with his wife, daughters, granddaughters, son-in-law, and many other caregivers never far from his side.
No funeral services are planned. The family is planning a “Celebration of Life” ceremony for some point in the future, but for now are pleased that Doug was accepted into the “Body to Science” program at Kansas University Medical School. They are thrilled that Doug will continue to do good in the world after death, just as he always strived for, in life.
Per Doug’s wishes, there will be a headstone in his name in the Baur family plot at the Erie Cemetery in Erie, PA. Meanwhile, the family requests that no flowers be sent, but, because Doug and Sue have contributed to, and cared about, numerous charities over the years, making a donation to a charity of your choosing would be appreciated by them both. (A donation to the Alzheimer’s Association is certainly also an appropriate option.)
As an end-note: Over the years, Doug so appreciated the love, support, and adventures that his friends and family provided Sue and him. His children have heard so many stories, seen so many pictures, and know that they (you) have filled their lives with countless treasured memories. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.