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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!
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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.

Anna-Marie
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

Eileen
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………

Jan
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)

Kel
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. 
  • mosaic_world

    RIP. my condolences to all

  • CamOp_Bandit

    The tears are still flowing. Godspeed Doug … losing you is heart wrenching. I keep expecting you to jump in and EMOJI me and make me laugh. I miss you already!

  • Teezee

    Rest in Peace Doug. Perhaps you could out in a good word for the rest of us who follow these cams. You did good here on Earth!

  • naturegirl

    To Doug’s friends and family. He will be greatly missed by all of us Explore chatters. My condolences to you.

  • Augusta

    Thank you for all your service, Doug. ♡ RIP ♡☆

  • lolo53

    Doug I know you are lookIng down from heaven at all the gorgeous wildlife you shared with us. Being a cam-op you made an indelible mark on people all over the world and touched so many lives along the way. May you have peace and serenity. You will be missed and always rememmbered.

  • Juergen

    thank you so much for your great Cam Work Dough!!!

  • LuvPugs

    My sympathy and condolences to Doug’s family and friends. Will miss “seeing” him on Explore very much.

  • krayonz

    What a joy having had Doug’s cam work in our lives! Thanks to his family and friends for sharing him with the explore family. His bus rides will be sorely missed!

  • https://www.pinterest.com/donnab10/ DTB

    Such very sad news. Doug was a bright light in everyone’s day. He will be truly missed.

  • calliopejane

    Thoughts and prayers go out to Doug’s family. A great big thank you for his service to our nation and his great work on the cams.

  • CINDY

    im so sorry for the loss of doug vaughn god bless his family

  • Naomi Boak

    Doug will be missed on the bear cams. No Doug, no Lurch in 2017. He captured some unforgettable images — a close up of an eagle comes to mind. We have lost a family member. My condolences and love to his family.

    • BearNurse

      Sent you a message on bear cam today.

  • kalcat

    Sad news. RIP Doug.

  • CamOp Snick

    Doug was so much more than a cam op to so many of us. He was a friend and a genuinely nice, warm, caring, funny man. I still can’t find the words. The only thing I do know is that it feels as though there is a hole in my heart.

    I will miss him telling me every Friday at 2pm on the BCR cams that he was “here to put the cats to bed”. Fridays will especially never be the same.

    I miss that man.

  • Birdy

    So sorry to hear this! I always loved whenever I found him running a cam. Very kind and helpful. He always would answer my questions… He will be missed and i send condolences to his family❤︎

  • Deborah-TX (2014)

    Ad astra Doug, evenings in Churchill not to mention mornings with the prairie dogs will never be the same.

  • Cloud

    There is a hole in the explore.org family that will never be filled. Thank you, Doug, for the insights, the laughter, the connection. You were a gift.

  • connien

    I was pretty new when I first ran into Doug’s posts as a camops. They were informative and the emoji es would make me laugh out loud. Thank you Doug and my deepest condolences to his family. I hope we as a community reflected back to him the warmth and happiness he so freely gave to us.

  • anc1entmar1ner

    Doug, we hardly knew you, but we felt like you were one of our best friends. Sleep peacefully.

  • IslandDunesGal

    Thank you, Doug, for helping explore.org give us a window into nature. I will miss you, but will see you on the other side one day. We will talk about all the animals we came to love.

  • BearBell

    I am heartbroken to hear of Doug’s passing. As a fellow night owl, he was my late night pal, and will truly be missed, He was a huge part of the Explore Cams experience, and will not be forgotten. Thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and co-workers, and all who loved him (ultimately all of us ! ). May good memories bring comfort.

  • Donna de Wildt

    Godspeed, CamOp Doug. You are now traveling high in the clouds in the Great Sailboat in the Sky. To those close to Doug, who knew him as a man of honor, be comforted that he had a berth to rest in upon arrival in the skies. He was met by many a Navy vet who preceded him, and they will guide him on his journey. When he’s rested, he will share his CamOp stories, and add his mark to a very detailed heavenly journal.

    Thoughts and Prayers to his family and friends from my Naval family.

  • Luv2fishdarlene

    Rest in peace sweet Doug

  • plj

    I am so so sorry to read about Dougs passing. He was a wonderful cam op and always so nice to all of us who would pester him to move the camera one way or another when he was manning the BCR cams.. My sympathies to his family amd friends. RIP Cam Op Doug. You will be missed.

  • beakie beakie

    So sad to hear…Sending prayers to everyone… Family, Friends, and
    Explore.Org Family…

  • oh_please

    God bless his soul, and thank you Doug for your service to our country. May you rest in peace

  • GABear

    Condolences to Doug’s family,friends and his explore family. Anyone who watched explore cams will remember his presence, posts and great views.

  • Shawndi

    How sad beyond words. Doug, you will be sorely missed. Thank you for your love and diligence in all that you did in life. Sending love and prayers to Doug’s family and all who loved him. God bless you Doug. Run in Paradise.

  • BearNurse

    I am a chatter on Explore.org. Our cam ops perform a wonderful job for all of us.
    Reading about Doug brought to mind a book written after JFK’s death entitled
    “Johnny, we hardly knew ye” by K. O’Donnell.we don’t get to see or know our
    Invaluable cam ops, but reading Doug’s story made me think “Doug, we hardly
    Knew he!” What a wonderful man he was!

  • plurp

    R.I.P You shall not be forgotten

  • MJ

    Doug! We will not forget your efforts and humor everywhere here and will never forget you! Thank you and RIP.

  • linda

    now instead of putting the cats to bed ( Big Cat Rescue)…he is romping and playing with them over the Rainbow Bridge- RIP dear friend

  • Heather Wells

    So very sad to hear this news. My condolences to Doug’s family, friends and his explore.org family. Although I only knew Doug a short time I know his presence will be deeply missed on all the cams as he was a great cam operator and helpful, kind and very funny. May you find comfort knowing he is there while you search the evening skies. “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”- Eskimo saying

  • Lauren Kites

    I didn’t even know him but that was such a nice tribute to him it made me tear up. It’s nice to know there are such good people out there.

  • SDinVA

    “Fair Winds and Following Seas”, Doug!

  • Julie

    Ugh. This is really not fair. Great tribute to a great man.

  • abcayemich

    I am so very sorry to hear of Doug’s passing. I first met him about six years ago on another cam network. We became good friends through the chat there. Then, he popped on one night at the Bear cams and surprised me and we kept in touch on chat and through occasional texts. I will be forever grateful for his friendship and for all the happy memories and the million laughs. R.I.P. Doug.

  • Debbi Clark

    I was so sorry to hear of Doug’s passing. He was so kind to guide me through my first bear season. I thought of him during the dental surgeries at BCR on Sat. Thank you for the time you gave to make this great adventure possible! I hope his family knows how much joy he brought into so MANY lives.

  • Ivymoss

    Oh No! “Kool beans” is gone? Tears =(… I am so very sad to hear this. Thank you for your kind friendship while I knew you♥ R.I.P. Doug♥ You will be sorely missed!

  • AJAY-CP-NY

    May he rest is peace and revel the day we all get to meet ‘again’.

  • bubbasmom ME

    I thank CampOp Doug for his service to our country and as a wonderful Camp Op. I envision him directing camera angles and taking photos from afar. Rest well Doug. ♥

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