Douglas Brian Wilde, 72, of Bowie, MD, passed away on December 16, 2022 of natural causes. He is survived by his partner Connie Badowski and niece Deborah Osborne. He was predeceased by his parents Richard A. and Phyllis K. Wilde, his brother Lanny Wilde, and niece Kathleen Ritter.
Doug was a delightful and curious blend of research scientist, philosopher, animal lover, artisan, an early days computer modeler, gardener, sailor and historian.
Doug was born in Pittsburg, PA and lived his childhood in St. Clair Shores, MI. He graduated with degrees in Biology from Albion College and Northern Michigan University including research on the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Loons and White-tailed deer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He furthered his education by receiving a PhD in Zoology from Idaho State University. His post-doctorate research included studying the effects of man on an ecology system involving pygmy rabbits in the Arco Deserts funded by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory near Idaho Falls. Doug coined himself “The Great White Hunter” trapping and releasing his subjects.
He spent several years in Hawaii, managing a macadamia nut farm, starting a recreational rowing equipment company and sparking his passion in model boat building with a replica of the Falls of Clyde that was displayed at the Hawaii Maritime Center. After his time in paradise, Doug sought financial stability back on the mainland working in the Office of Research Administration at Southern Methodist University and then continued his education there receiving an Executive MBA. Doug worked in the administration at the School of Engineering at University of Arkansas before deciding he needed somewhere a bit less land locked. For the rest of his career, he touched all aspects of the Smithsonian American Art Museum as their Financial Officer and was an integral part of the close family there.
He had a particular interest in sailing and maritime history, which started from his early days growing up on the canals of Lake Saint Clair. He later took a yacht design course in preparation to build a homemade 16’ wooden sailboat and a pair of spruce wooden canoes in his garage in Bowie, MD. He found a venue to combine his passions by writing several of the section labels describing various aircraft on display at the Air Zoo, an aviation museum that opened in Kalamazoo, MI where his parents had retired. Doug has extensive research and a mini-exhibit on the USS Wolverine whose homeport was the Chicago Navy Pier. The ship was converted from the SS Greater Buffalo, one of the steam engine ships of the D&C Navigation Company of the Great Lakes, to a WWII aircraft carrier trainer that sailed through the Great Lakes enabling pilot training. He enjoyed learning about the skill and art of blacksmithing with his long-term partner Connie and their blacksmithing guild. During his years in Bowie, MD, Doug was a long time member of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the Washington Ship Model Society, the nation’s oldest organization of ship model enthusiasts. Doug was an early adopter of living more a sustainable lifestyle, designed annual vegetables gardens and enjoyed cooking.
Beyond all these things, if you ever had the opportunity to meet Doug, he most likely sparked an interesting conversation and left you feeling happier than before in that moment. He embodied a way of life that brought joy and laughter to all that he interacted with - his smile and handlebar moustache being his characteristic trademark.
A celebration of Doug’s life will be held at the College Park Aviation Museum, College Park, MD, February 18, 2023 at 2:00 pm.