Douglas A. Neish
1955 - 2021
It is with immense pain that I formally announce the death of my father, Douglas A. Neish, who passed away peacefully and painlessly in his sleep, after sunrise on February 14, 2021. Shortly after his 65th birthday, and having just retired from work, he became critically ill with an aggressive and untreatable cancer.
Dad was predeceased by his parents, Arthur Charles Neish and Dorothy Ann Ray Neish. His former spouse of 20 years, my mother, Cindy S. Cossever. His former sister-in-law Michele Meunier.
He is survived by his daughter Elizabeth Neish, his three older siblings Iain, Gordon, and Nancy Neish, former sister-in-law Sarah Serrano Neish, sister-in-law Laure Wilson Neish, former brother-in-law Allen Prowse, nieces and nephews Chantal Haske, Arthur Neish, Joelle Ortiz, Ruth Anne Joaquino, James Neish, Emily Neish, Catherine Neish, Michael Prowse and Kate Prowse as well as several great nieces and nephews and cousins Frances Neish, Alisdair Neish, and John Creelman.
My Dad led a life full of adventures. He also possessed many skills. He was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1955, moved to Davis, California in 1959 for one year and then returned to Saskatoon for one more year. In 1961 Dad’s family made the long drive from Saskatoon to settle in his father’s home province of Nova Scotia where his great grandfather settled after emigrating from Dundee, Scotland. Although my Dad was only five years old at that time, he fondly remembered his parents piling him, his siblings, and their beloved childhood Labrador Retriever Blackie, into a dark blue Mercury station wagon for the journey to Atlantic Canada.
When growing up in Nova Scotia, the ocean and all her wonder was one of Dad’s first true loves. Her beauty and power demands respect. Dad grew up honouring her and he taught me how to honour her as well. Dad was a sailor, wind surfer, freebase diver, and scuba diver. He taught me everything he knew. One of his fondest memories growing up was building sailboats with his father and siblings. One wee sailboat in particular that his father built for him was called ‘Nugget’ and she was painted yellow. It soon became a famous sight for the rescue boat, and regular sailors and fishermen on the Northwest Arm and Halifax Harbour to know that when they saw a yellow dot moving with the waves that was wee Dougie sailing his Nugget.
Before and during the time Dad was going to university in Halifax he worked as a taxi driver. He enjoyed that time and has regaled me with many stories from his (mostly drunken) fares. In his teen years he spent several summers in Maine freebase diving and seaweed farming. All these skills were put to use again in his 40’s when he visited Malaysia for an extended period of time to help out his brother Iain.
Dad went to Acadia University, Wolfville, NS for his Bachelor of Arts degree and Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS for his MBA. His career path brought him to so many places in the world. He traveled most of Europe, the U.K., and Asia on business trips. In his personal time, he spent many months in Mexico to learn Spanish and then traveled around South America. He became fluent in Spanish rather quickly, another skill that helped him help others both professionally and personally.
Dad became an uncle for the first time at age 15. He was as proud of being an uncle as he was of being a father. Dad took his role as uncle seriously and maintained an interest in the lives of all his nieces and nephews. He would beam with love and pride any time he had the chance to tell friends and colleagues about their varying talents and accomplishments. His nieces and nephews found understanding and comfort when speaking with him and many sought his guidance. We will all miss his smile, his laugh and even his teasing too.
We lived in Ottawa and then Toronto until 1995 when we emigrated to the United States. My Dad bounced around a few towns and cities over those years until 2003 when he became employed by KPMG and found a home in Chicago, IL. I followed Dad to Chicago only a few months after he moved there and those were some of the happiest years of our lives. In 2008 Dad made a bold decision to transfer to KPMG’s Toronto, ON office. He decided it was time to end the United States chapter of his life and go back home to Canada.
In the workplace, Dad was respected for his professionalism, expertise, mentoring skills, and work ethic. Over the past month I have received many e-mails, messages and some phone calls from bosses, colleagues, and mentees. Every note I read and phone call I received reiterated his qualities of kindness to everyone no matter their position in the company. He would patiently review important information from point A to point Z, not missing or skipping a point until the person had a clear understanding of the issue. He was well known throughout the firm for his expertise and depended upon to find creative solutions for challenging circumstances. He was known for his compassion, insight, and integrity. He was a mentor to many of his colleagues. He promoted their well-being by setting them up for success. He left no man or woman behind; he truly treated everyone equally and with respect.
Dad gave as much as he could even when we had nothing. He paid the school tuition for the children of a friend overseas. He once bought a simple laptop and spent about a week working on it and customizing its features to give to the son of a friend who was struggling with school and going through a hard time. Dad spent many weekends over many years in Chicago volunteering in a centre on the west side of Chicago to help Spanish speaking immigrants obtain their green cards and apply for U.S. citizenship. Dad loved speaking Spanish and having gone through the green card process himself, he understood the frustrations of the process.
Dad was a spiritual man too. This is something he kept very private. While he and I had very different conduits to channel our spiritual beliefs, it didn’t prohibit us from having conversations about our perspectives regarding the mysteries and inner workings of the universe and life’s many lessons.
I could literally write a book on the love and devotion he put into being a father. Attempting to sum it up in just one or two paragraphs just feels so unjust as I sit here grappling with how to honour him and his memory. No matter what I write, no matter what grandiose words I try to pluck at to describe him, it will never come close to encompassing just how huge his loving heart was as a person and a father.
But here I must try….
He wasn’t just my Dad; he was my best friend. He was my confidant, and in some circumstances in life, my comrade at arms. We always had each other’s back. We were partners. We were each other’s North Star and each other’s home. We shared and talked about everything; there were no secrets. We had long discussions and bounced off ideas before making a decision or a change in our lives. His support and pride were always sincere. Looking back and feeling our relationship as a whole, there is no moment of regret or internal discussions of “shoulda woulda, coulda.” We loved and supported each other completely and nothing was left unsaid or unfelt between us.
The motto attributed to the Neish clan is Animo non astutia, which translates “By courage, not by craft.” Another motto attributed to our family is Amicitium trahit amor which translates to “Love draws friendship.” That was us. We have been holding hands my entire life moving forward together. We walked through many obstacles, took many leaps of faith respectively in our individual lives, and we were always holding hands and helping each other. Led by courage and our love. That gave us all the strength in the world to get through all the good and beautiful things life offered including all the difficult and hurtful things as well.
Douglas Neish was a beloved son, brother, father, uncle, cousin, friend.
May the memory of his love continue to bless us all.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to one of these worthy causes that are in line with Dads values. Links to such charities can be found under the Donations tab on his home page. Thank you.
Please share your memories, photos and sentiments of Douglas' life here at his memorial web page.
Uniquely entrusted to eco Cremation & Burial Services Inc.
Life Celebrations. Done Differently.