DOUGLAS — Relatives of Dr. James Douglas, who founded Douglas in 1905, were in the city for the annual Douglas Days celebration May 12-13.
Stuart Douglas, the great-great-grandson of James Douglas, was visiting the Douglas Williams House and other historic places around town in February 2022 when he met some residents who invited him to attend a Douglas Business Network event one evening. The reception he received that night was so welcoming he began organizing a family reunion that would coincide with Douglas Days.
Thanks to his tenacity, 25-30 family members were in town for the weekend festivities and were honored at numerous events, featured in the Douglas Days parade and even participated in the Bed Races Saturday finishing in third place and winning a trophy to take home.
Stuart, who turned 80 in March and lives in Talent, Oregon, said he had family members coming from as far as London, where one family member works but has a home in New York.
“It’s been a labor of love,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work. I’ve met new members of my family through this. I am so happy we were able to come together. We love being here.”
Stuart’s trip to Douglas for the reunion almost didn’t happen.
About a week before he was scheduled to leave he experienced a heart condition while playing tennis, which led to him getting a new pacemaker.
“I’m a feisty Douglas,” he said. “It didn’t put me down. I’m here. We flew instead of driving. I’m feeling pretty darn good. If there is a golfer out there I want to play you.”
Stuart said he is impressed with the spirit of the people in the community from the mayor and city council down to its residents.
“Everybody is doing a phenomenal job to make Douglas better every day,” he said.
James Alexander Miller Douglas, who goes by the nickname of Sandy, is Staurt’s cousin and lives in Atlanta. He and his family was visiting Douglas for the first time.
“I’m so grateful to Stuart for pulling this together,” he said. “It’s been so much fun. The community is incredible.”
Sandy said all the family members that came for this reunion will go back and share their experiences with the other family members, which hopefully will make it an even bigger family reunion in the future.
“This is a full family affair,” he said. “Three full family generations.”
Sandy said listening to Mayor Donald Huish speak you can hear the common vision he has for Douglas.
“You can feel the enthusiasm and grit and commitment and, of course, with the federal investment in the border, it will help revitalize the community,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet against Douglas, Arizona.”
In his welcoming remarks Huish welcomed the Douglas family, stating the beautiful city owes much of its existence to its ancestor and the city’s namesake, Dr. James Douglas.
“Dr. Douglas was an extraordinary man, having explored three different careers in ministry, medicine and mining — all by the age of 32,” Huish said. “It was his work in the mining industry that led to the founding of our beloved city.”
Douglas was incorporated in 1905 and has since been a place of strong family values, culture and community, Huish said. adding today, we gather to honor our city’s founding and reaffirm the core values that make Douglas the best place to live.
“As we commemorate our past, we should also look to our future,” he said. “Douglas is uniquely positioned to flourish for years to come, and its citizens play a crucial role in shaping our city’s destiny. With limitless potential, it’s our responsibility, as a community, to maximize that potential while staying true to the values that define our community.
“To move our city forward, we must unite and support the vision of the mayor and council, striving to make our community prosper like never before. With the same passion and determination that Dr. James Douglas exhibited when founding the city of Douglas, let us work together to create a bright and thriving future for our beautiful city of Douglas.”
There were numerous musical performances throughout the weekend, a car show, talent show and even a salsa and michelada contest.
The bed races Saturday featured four teams. The Douglas Fire Department came in first, followed by the Mexican Consulate, the Douglas family and the city of Douglas.
The salsa contest was won by Cilantros followed by Chatitas Mexican Restaurant and the Gadsden Hotel.
The michelada contest was won by the Gadsden Hotel with Chatitas and Cilantros finishing second and third.
Jeff Davenport, who lives in Sierra Vista but is known throughout all of Cochise County, was invited back for a second consecutive year to emcee Douglas Days.
“The weekend flowed really well and offered something for everyone,” he said. “It was extra special to have dozens of members of the James Douglas family in attendance. I also want to recognize all the hard work from the city of Douglas Recreation staff who created an incredible event for the community.”