DeForest - Douglas Russel Reigstad, age 85, passed away on August 24, 2014 at Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg with his son Steve by his side.
He was born June 30, 1929, in DeForest, the eldest son of Russel and Anita (Cutler) Reigstad. Doug grew up on the family farm and later graduated from DeForest High School in 1947, where he lettered in baseball, basketball and boxing. He went on to play home talent baseball for many years and was a perennial, all-star centerfielder and later a baseball umpire. Always the hard worker, he seldom had less than two jobs. Doug made his first five dollars in his early teens while raising and selling white king pigeons. His early adulthood found him in a variety of jobs, including driving a milk truck for Stevenson Dairy, working on the railroad, putting in time at the Forest Milk Company, logging hours at a warehouse canning factory and bartending at DeForest’s Corn Crib Tavern. Not long after high school graduation, Doug took a meat cutter job with Oscar Mayer in Madison and spent 35 years working there, retiring from the plant in 1982.
Doug wed Madison East graduate Delores Korb on May 14, 1949 and enjoyed 65 years of married life with his lovely bride. While wooing Delores, Doug would pay 5 cents to ride the train from DeForest to Madison and take her to dances, movies and dinners. After briefly living in Madison after marriage, Doug and Delores moved back to DeForest, and built a home on a lot given to him by his Aunt Cora Reigstad. Being the first house on the street, they named the street “Sunset Drive” because of the beautiful sunsets viewed from there. They built a second home on Sunset Drive in 1970, right next to their prior home, and it served as Doug’s home until his passing.
In 1956, he volunteered for the DeForest Fire Department and proudly served 45 years as a fireman. After being on the Department for over 20 years, Doug went back to school in 1976 and earned his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification so he could participate more fully in ambulance calls. In 1977, he became Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Director and administered all activities relating to the DeForest ambulances, including overseeing the purchase of six new ambulances and the Department’s first heart defibulator. Doug served nearly 25 years as EMS Director and held many patients’ hands, sang many a song to them, and gave out hundreds of teddy bears over the years during transport to the Madison hospitals, contributing his own money to purchase the first teddy bears for the ambulance. Being a fireman and EMT was a labor of love for him and Doug spent countless hours meticulously making sure the ambulances, as well as his fellow EMTs, were prepared. On Christmas Day 1988, the Wisconsin State Journal called him the “Father of Firefighting” and named him one of 25 people that made a difference, in recognition of his long-time community service as a fireman and EMT. Doug served on the Dane County EMS Commission, worked nine years as an EMT Evaluator for Madison Area Technical College and went on thousands of ambulances calls.
In his later years, Doug worked at Schultz’s Marketplace in the Meat Department part-time and enjoyed his time there with his fellow workers and with then-owner Jim Schultz. He loved the outdoors his whole life and enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping, and boating. And, he was especially happy when fishing and hunting with his sons and grandsons. Doug was a wonderful family man and adored his wife, children, grand kids and great-grand kids. He was a “people” person, a great storyteller, had a zest for living, and a wicked, salty sense of humor that he kept to the very end of his days. Just like his mother before him, you always knew where you stood with Doug, good or bad. He was a lifelong member of Christ Lutheran Church, an usher there for many years and chaperoned many Luther League outings.
Doug is survived by his wife Delores, and his daughter Sharon Reigstad (Ron Slapinski) of Kenosha, and his two sons; Steve (Toni) Reigstad, and Scott (Janet) Reigstad; both residing in DeForest. He leaves behind two brothers, Rollie Reigstad and Jerry (Nancy) Reigstad and one sister-in-law, Pat Reigstad; all of DeForest. Doug is further survived by six grandchildren, Stacy and Stephani, Brandon and Travis, Ryan and Hannah, as well as four great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his father and mother; and four brothers; Sanford, Neal, Kenneth (Boom) and John (Jack); and sister-in-law Norma Jean (Jeannie) Reigstad.
A service will be held at CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH, 220 South Main St, DeForest, at 11:00 AM on Thursday, August 28, 2014, with Pastor Sara Gillespie officiating. A visitation will be held at the RYAN FUNERAL HOME at 6924 Lake Road, DeForest on Wednesday, August 27 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM and again at the church from 10:00AM until the time of service on Thursday. Burial to follow in the Norway Grove Cemetery.
The family would like to thank the staff at Meriter Hospital’s Intermediate Care Unit and at Agrace HospiceCare for their wonderful and loving care.
If a man’s wealth were measured by the people who love him, the number of lives he touched, the people he helped along the way, and the laughter he created, Doug was a very wealthy man. Dad, you will be missed by all.
To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com.