Posted on June 12, 2017
Bold, brilliant, and courageous.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has lost one of its own. It is with profound sadness that I share news of the passing of ADAO Cofounder and unparalleled champion, Doug Larkin. He had been courageously battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for many years, and today surrounded by this family, he passed away.
Let the truth be told, Doug never complained. He was bold, brilliant, passionate, but there’s more.
Without Doug, there wouldn’t be an ADAO — he was the ADAO cofounder, my partner in crime, and my dear friend — as I know he was to many of you as well. Doug and I met in Washington, DC in 2004 at Senator Patty Murray’s Ban Asbestos meeting. Alan had been diagnosed just the year before, and Doug’s father-in-law, William D. Shields, had tragically been diagnosed with mesothelioma as well. Some could call it spontaneity, but I call it serendipity — we decided to cofound ADAO right then and there. As Doug said at one of our early conferences, “Linda and I didn’t know each other when we started this. What brought us together was a common cause.”
With a strong background in public relations and an understanding of policy and Washington’s ways of doing things, Doug was instrumental in creating our voice and getting our message in front of members of Congress and the press. Doug earned a degree in political science from Muskingum University, New Concord, Ohio and was the President & CEO of Larkin Communications, a strategic communications and public affairs firm based in Washington, DC. He worked on numerous successful legislative campaigns on behalf of large technology companies and national trade associations. In addition, he was an expert in corporate communications, brand identity, as well as message development and dissemination. He even worked as the press secretary and the communication director for Congressman Kevin Brady (R-08-TX).
Doug’s dedication and tenacity earned him the respect and admiration of lawmakers and community members alike. He has been specifically acknowledged as a leader of the movement by a number of Congressional members, including Sen. Max Baucus and Congresswoman Lois Capps.
ADAO’s National Spokesman, Jordan Zevon, described Doug’s spirit and energy so well: “When I think about Doug Larkin, and what he’s meant to ADAO and to me, there just seems to be this endless supply of drive and this genuine quality that he had. You know whatever he was doing, all of his heart was in it.”
Doug’s tireless work has allowed ADAO to exceed our mission and vision. His years of wisdom; professional experience; passion; and love for Bill, his father-in-law, helped make ADAO what it is today. Even through his own battle with disease, Doug never wavered in his dedication to ADAO and our community, and he never gave up the fight. He was such a pillar of strength for me, and it’s painful to know we must continue our collective project without him by our side.
Doug, you are and will always be loved and missed around the world. Thank you for your unyielding support to enable ADAO to achieve all it has–and continues to achieve–to help prevent asbestos exposure and someday to eliminate all asbestos-caused diseases. In your honor, we will strive forward until we reach the goal you and I set out to accomplish all those years ago.
Doug is survived by his loving wife Lisa, son Alex, his parents Donald and Ruth Larkin, brothers David, (Dale) Dwight, (Renee) nieces and nephews Audrey, Ryan, Conner, Grace, Quinn. Parents in law Susan Tillson, Bruce and Marcy Decker, Lisa’s brother Chris (Theresa) Decker, Nieces Emily and Madison, Grandparents Betty Stokes and John and Ruth Decker.
Services will be held Saturday, June 17th at the Christ the King Church, 3021 NY Route 213, Stone Ridge, NY 12484. In honor of Doug and in lieu of flowers please send your donations to the ALS Association.
Condolence cards can be mailed to ADAO, 1525 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 318, Redondo Beach, California, 90278
With deep love,
Doug’s niece, Audrey Larkin, wrote Stopper when she heard of his ALS diagnosis.
By Audrey Larkin
Guilt eats at my heart
For things, I didn’t do
But had the opportunity too.
An aching in my bones
That I should be trying harder
To see you before your time runs out.
I can see it.
An hourglass that hangs in the sky.
The top soaring past the clouds
That should be full of your unending future.
And the bottom filled with a storming sea
That your precious sands are continually lost in.
Lost in a place where I cannot retrieve them.
Let me put a stopper in the glass.
Stop your time from running out
Or let it flow into my hands
So, I might put it back again.
Please let me freeze time,
Stop it from falling
So, you will always be what I remember.
I don’t want to see you break
See you slowly deteriorate before my eyes
Then suddenly I blink and
It seems now you are steps away from death
Not even enough sand to fill a seashell
I wish I could crack open my own hourglass
To shovel some of my time into you
You should live
to see your son’s first baseball team
His first kiss
His first crush
A little girl with pigtails in his kinder garden class.
You should see his prom
And the girl he falls in love with.
I want you to help him plan his proposal
Hold your grandkids.
I want all that for you.
I want your sand to run out when
Both your body and mind are tired and heavy
With happy memories.
I want those last grains of sand
To fall to the ocean
With the lightness and freedom
Of a long happy life.
You are only 45
But you have only months left
Months that can be counted on one hand.
Your son is only 3 and a half
You’ve only been married 6 years.
You were my age when I was born
Always the easiest to talk too.
The first to treat me as an adult.
How can we lose you now?
How can I lose you now?
You asked if I have a boyfriend.
You always thought you would get to ask him
If he was good enough for me.
You wanted me to be happy.
You don’t want me to be lonely,
like you felt when I was growing up.
You’ve been married twice.
But it wasn’t until the second
that I saw you so remarkably happy.
Then this happens.
You must feel cursed.
If I could I would put a stopper
in the bottle of your hourglass
and keep you here
with those of us who love you
You are family.
I love you till the end
of your time and of mine
Those of us who rarely see you
will miss you most of all.