Another moment of sorrow for our home.
Eulogy for Dona A. Dugal
by David G. Dugal
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Don Dugal was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He was, at times, both compassionate and stern, a leader in his field and wary of new technology, patient and fun-loving as a father, and meticulously precise in his professional career. Don was many things to many people; a jack of all trades and a master of most everything he attempted.
Joe Puleo, author of “Getting Home Alive”, had this to say about his experiences working with Don at The Auto Show:
“Don and I worked in two garage bays adjacent to the body shop. On my first day, someone in the parts department warned me that no one had ever been able to get along with Don. What a way to begin a job. I quickly learned that Don’s problem, if one could call it that, was that he didn’t suffer fools lightly and was fully prepared to let them know it. He is also the best mechanic I’ve ever met and it is to him that I owe most of what I know about how cars really work. Over the time we worked together, he became a good friend and I am always pleased that our paths occasionally cross.”
While some may have considered his renowned lack of patience as a curse, I and many people learned to appreciate and accept it as a characteristic of any genius. So precise and meticulous was he in his craft, that any deviation from the right answer was clearly a waste of time and effort. Over the years, through sharing time and projects with my dad, I found the unique wisdom in removing the improbable and focusing only on the logical conclusion. I truly believe I owe all of my technical and troubleshooting abilities to his singular philosophy and quest for the truth.
As Joe said, he never suffered fools and always spoke his mind, even if it got him in trouble or alienated him. He mostly saw things as black and white, but always made his choice intelligently and stuck to it. My sister, Diane, was just commenting about how he taught her to tell how fast a car was going without looking at the speedometer and could often diagnose a problem with a car engine without even opening up the hood.
In retrospect, Don was very lucky to find his passion in cars. He was also true and fair in his dealings with others. He never took advantage of anyone, selling cars for what he put into them, and giving free advice about auto repair to anyone that happened to visit. I recall how every Saturday, Dad would be working on his current project du jour and at least a half-dozen friends would swing by to see how he was doing, then proceed to ask for consultation on their own automotive ailments. He used to quip that if he’d charge for all his advice, he’d be a millionaire by now.
On a personal front, he also gave me excellent advice about pursuing my vocation. Instead of following his lead and taking up auto mechanics, he suggested that I reach for higher technology and get into the Electronics curriculum at Davies Vocational High School. That small, but surgically accurate advice eventually lead to a degree in Electrical Engineering at URI and a series of high tech jobs. I can publicly affirm that I would not be where I am today without his guidance, and will be forever grateful.
My sister Diane really got to know him over the last year or so, as his condition progressed. He had called Diane while he was in Hospice, and in a somber tone stated how much he loved the two of us, and how proud he was that we were so successful. He said that he really thought my fiancée, Nancie was good for me, and that he was delighted I found someone to take care of me. As always, he was right on the money, and I couldn’t agree more.
He said recently that the last Father's Day we all spent together was the best one he ever had. Maybe he was too proud to make the first step to get closer to us, but we both thank God that we were given that chance. Every moment we spent with him was precious.
He was a good man, a kind soul, an outstanding father, and a mechanical genius. He will truly be missed.