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In Loving Memory of Doug “Kool Beans” Vaughn

How is it possible that you can never meet someone in person but feel like you know them? It’s easy. We do it every day. However, some of the people we meet here at explore.org become such an integral part of our lives that we feel like we’ve known them our whole life and think they’ll be here forever. But, of course, they won’t. Some will move, some will get jobs that conflict with their schedules, and some will come to the end of their journey on earth.

That’s what happened this week when a true heartbeat of our cam op group passed away: Doug “Kool Beans” Vaughn.

We know he made an impact on all of your lives… he certainly did on ours since we first met him 3 years ago this March.

His sister emphasized how much joy he got from the explore.org cameras. But even more than that, he got joy from each of you. He considered all of us his family. He was honored to be part of it.

The honor was ours.

We told her that whatever he got, he gave back a thousand-fold. He never met a camera he didn’t like. And he was always willing to fill in and share his love of the cameras. He was proud to teach new camera operators… and REALLY proud of his mugs for his winning entries in the Pic of the Month contest.

You may not know this, but Doug is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. He served in the Vietnam war. Doug suffered from heart problems and many other illnesses that were a result of his military disability.

But he was vibrant and funny and we thought he’d be with us for a long time. He was already signed up for bears! We thought he’d be back in a week. He won’t, of course. But there won’t be a bison season, aurora display (or, in his case, an overcast aurora night), that we won’t think of him and wish he was on the schedule. And we’ll miss him signing in on the bat shift: “I’m here to get batty.”

We’ll miss you, Doug. Thanks for everything.

Written lovingly by Katharine Green

Photo by Doug

 Doug’s favorite snapshot that he took!
Robert Gray
So very sad to hear about Doug’s passing. I know he had been through a rough time. May he be at peace. That Kool Beans saying always made me laugh. On the NL cam, more often then not , he would have a cloudy sky. I always made sure to tease him about it. He would be so excited to catch aurora. Will miss him dearly 🙁

RG ‘Greg’ Webster
Missing Doug already and having him drop by to visit & share another experience.
Condolences to his family and friends.
Farewell LightRider

Robert Gray
On the Northern Lights cam, Doug would often have overcast sky for his shift. Greg once posted that he used a can of ” Cloud B Gone ” to blow away the clouds on his shift. When I suggested to Doug to do the same, he posted that he had chili for dinner that day. I laughed. Will greatly miss his wonderful sense of humor.

Ruxandra Nicolae
I can’t believe that, I was thinking at him everyday and wondering how he feels, but never dare to contact him, I was sure that he will come soon saying Kool Beans, ohhh, is so sad, he teach me so much and he was always so funny and ready to help all of us. I will miss him a lot, he was part of the soul of this big family. Rest in Peace Doug. I will never forget you and I am sorry I didn’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you.

I’m really sad to hear about the passing of one of the sweetest people I’ve known here at Explore. Doug made me laugh all the time with his postings. He was so considerate of everyone and he loved helping other camops . I will truly miss him.

Maura Gregson
Thank you Katharine, for the words about Doug. He was the first camop who “spoke” to me at Explore and he calmed my racing heart on bear cams with his humor, more than once! He was funny and thoughtful and caring and he loved, loved, loved being a cam op. We had many conversations about the cams, joked about covering as many cams as possible on holidays and he filled my “ears” with Monty Python references! For me, Doug was part of the bedrock of Explore- always here, always arriving on a cam and always keeping it light and easy. I hope his family realizes what a ripple effect Doug had here, and how many people will always remember him fondly.

Faith Elisabeth
I can’t believe it! I’d been keeping him in my prayers and wondering about him. I loved to talk with him and tease him about how many cameras he was on…he was EVERYWHERE!! He always had a kind word or funny remark, and I loved sharing stories and shift moments with him. We never shared a shift, but we would sometimes help each other out when there was overlapping moments. I’m going to miss him, too.

Kim Brandow
Trying to hold back tears at work. You will be sorely missed, Doug. We all loved you and your Kool Beans. RIP buddy

My biggest memory of course, was him holding my hand during the death of the cub at Katmai. He literally spent 3 days with all of us as we watching the drama unfold and he worked with the Rangers to monitor the cub breathing. When the cub died and the retrieval took place, he literally held my hand as I drove that day. It was amazing how he was always there for us. I cannot express how much I will miss him and those crazy emojis he picked, especially chosen for a specific “cam something going on”. Like everyone has said, he was an integral part of the group that is “US”. And he will be missed – I am thankful for having known Doug – and he will NOT be forgotten. He and I “talked” daily when we were in Africa last year and he will be with me every day when I am on the cams. RIP Doug – and to your family, he was SO very special to me, I will miss him with all of my heart.

Melinda Waldrup
Heartbroken (u) . I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of working with him a few times and interacting with him many other times. You brought joy not only to us but to the viewers who received the benefit of your fantastic camera work. Thank you Doug, for all that you were and all that you shared. Rest in Peace Friend!

Kristine Metzner
🙁 I am so very saddened by the loss of Doug……He trained me one day on the BCR cams and was so helpful, kind, encouraging and had lots of wonderful tips to share. He was always ready to step in at a moments notice to do the BCR hospital cam and did an amazing job at it, every time. He was a joy to chat with and always made us laugh, with his fun comments, gefs and mems. Like Katharine said, we will never look at Ricky Gervais the same. His love of animals and doing the cams was obvious. He will be greatly missed……. there will always be a hole here that can never be filled………

Such a SAD, SAD day 🙁
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the thought that I/we won’t be seeing “Kool Beans” lighting up the Explore Skype groups with his presence and humor.
It was an honor to have known Doug (if only through Skype and Explore) and to have worked alongside him on the Explore cams.
My deepest condolences to his family and friends … and to “all” of his “Explore Family”.
He will be MISSED so VERY, VERY much.
Rest In Peace Doug (hug)(u)

I am so sad to hear of Doug’s passing. I will miss his posts. It was like he was doing cams for years even from the start. He was so enthusiastic, kind and helpful to all. His posts made me laugh a lot while I read things to catch up. He seemed to be always there to lend a hand to help no matter where you were on cams. He will be deeply missed! My thoughts and prayers to his family and to all here. 🙁

Kim Brandow
Think we are all in shock, Lauri. At least we all have each other to lean on. It is a sad day.

Please feel free to share a fond memory of CamOp Doug below, we all know how much he would appreciate it.