I’m Back … And So Long To A Dear Friend & Mentor

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©2002-2011 www.nelsoncountylife.com : Doug Viar in 2002 while engineering a live satellite shot from his truck for a Weather Channel hit for me from Titan's Stadium in Nashville, TN.

Nelson County, Virginia
If you are an avid reader of our NCL web edition, or a frequent listener to Tommy’s Weather, you have, no doubt, noticed my absence over the past 3-4 days. I received some very unexpected news last Monday – April 4, 2011. My good friend and mentor in the television news business had died. Oddly, I had been trying to call him that very day. Little did I know until about 30 minutes later when I got an email from his daughter out in Nevada, he was gone. Doug Viar was a pioneer in both radio and television. I got my first job in a country music radio station at the age of 16. Doug was the manager there. From then on our 30+ year relationship in the broadcasting business continued. I became a pilot at age 18 (his brother George was my instructor) and would fly Doug’s news tapes back and forth to stations in the mid-south. There were no widely available satellite trucks back then. I would fly all over the place with Doug, also a pilot, to news stories. Storms, prison breaks, murders, explosions, train derailments, you name it, we covered it. I learned the business from the ground up from the man you see in the picture above.

Later when he had already put years in the television news business, I was lucky enough to take his place on air at the CBS affiliate in Memphis. Doug started his own production company and even years later would start up his own satellite uplink truck company. Ironically, he and his truck would be the ones meeting me for most of my satellite live shots for local and national affiliates years later. The friendship and the learning continued.

A little before we moved to Nelson, one of the last few stories Doug and his sat truck did with both me and Yvette was from Arkansas where tornadoes hit. Afterward, Yvette, Doug and a photographer, Jeff Cochran, piled into a restaurant to eat. Yvette recalled that day about 9 years ago just like it was yesterday. She posted this on Facebook the day we found out Doug had died:

I’ll never forget that look you gave me when I ordered a side of fries and a hot fudge brownie sundae for dinner at Perkins after a long day of covering tornadoes in Arkansas with Tommy and Jeff Cochran. You were the greatest and Tommy and I have always thought the world of you. You and that Honda Gold Wing. Love and miss you “Grumpy” 🙂

Yvette’s nickname for him was Grumpy. Doug had little patience for amateurs. But great love for those who knew how to do it right. He didn’t like shallow, superficial people. There are plenty of those in television!

Doug, his wife Margaret and Yvette. This was during their visit to see us here in VA back in 2007. At Veritas.
Doug with his signature DVCAM up in the Blue Ridge during his 2007 vist with us here in Nelson.

By now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with Nelson County Life. Lots. You see, had it not been for Doug, his patience, mentoring, and teaching me the news business, it’s highly likely I would have gone another direction. Nelson County Life probably wouldn’t have been started. You may not know it, but you’ve heard him voice commercials here during Tommy’s Weather from time to time.

I just returned from a very emotional 2 days surrounding Doug’s funeral. Yet out of the sadness, there were lots of laughs, lots of stories, and reconnecting with friends and his family I hadn’t seen, some for over 10 years.

Saying good-bye to someone that’s had such an impact on your life is one of the hardest things you can do. Even before Doug’s death I would remember things he taught me as we cover stories here today in Nelson. And now with his passing, I will still remember those things, but this time the captain of the ship has turned over the wheel to another generation. I won’t be able to pick up the phone and ask Doug what he thinks about the way something’s done. But, hopefully he’s smiling at what we continue to do today.

We miss you my friend, it was a great run!

4 COMMENTS

  1. Tommy, I’m so glad you got to go home to say goodbye. I wish I could have gone back myself.

    It’s very hard to say goodbye to close friends. It touches us in a way that’s different from anything else…in some ways even more personal than family. But as Tommy knows, our TV brethern ARE family. We go through life together closer than some brothers and sisters. The tragic events we watch people endure almost daily only brings us closer together and make us appreciate each other that much more. We witness life together in ways most people cannot imagine. Along with that, our own marriages, kids, divorces, and deaths of our own families. Our TV family is there for all of it….even long after we’ve left the newsrooms for a “calmer” pace in life. For me, and much more for Tommy and Yvette, Doug was one of those rare and wonderful friends. And along with many more, we feel his loss. Tommy, Yvette and Doug. May God Bless all of you and give you peace.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us! When friends are woven into the tapestry of our lives it is so painful when they are torn from us and the strands unravel. But, thankfully, we find that we are stronger and better because of their influence and we can pass that on to the next generation. God bless your mentors and those who you will mentor in life.

  3. I hope we all leave such an important legacy for the next generation. I am sorry for your loss. You honor him with your dedication to create the best publication and reporting.

  4. Ann thank you so much for the kind words. Doug was one of those rare people that impacts your life greatly. Hardly a day goes by that I/we don’t rely on the wisdom he imparted to us. You having been a teacher for most of your life, know what an impact a mentor can have on you.

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