OKEECHOBEE — Dr. Edward Douglas, son of Jeff and Lillian, was born and raised in East Okeechobee. There were five boys and three girls in the family. He attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church School through the eighth grade and then graduated from the Okeechobee High School in 1951. He spent two years as an Army medic during the Korean Conflict, and then went to college in Tennessee where he originally planned to get a degree in education but soon decided that was not the path for him and changed his major to biology, pre-chiropractic. He minored in religion.
He finished up his chiropractic degree in 1961, and opened a practice right next door to where his office is still located today. He is just beginning his 59th year as a chiropractor but is only practicing part-time now, he said, and considering he is 88 years old, that’s enough. He was certified in acupuncture in 1975, and did post-graduate work in applied kinesiology, and he studied CRA contact reflex analysis for 28 years. He also got into Neural Integration Systems, started by an osteopathic physician in New Zealand. He began doing that in 2005. He has always loved working in the field of natural health, he said. Otherwise, he would have retired a long time ago.
He was part of a church that was started back in 1982, and he was interim pastor now and then for about a 20-year period, he said. He was head elder for the Seventh Day Adventist Church for a number of years as well.
Dr. Douglas has always loved gospel music, particularly Southern gospel, he said. He sang bass in a gospel group for a few years. He started his own group, and they sang around town for several years too. He was responsible for the music in the park during the Speckled Perch and Labor Day Festivals for about 12 years. For many years, his church held a weekly gospel sing and invited anyone from the community to come out and participate. For several years, he sponsored bluegrass festivals in various locations in Okeechobee, one year bringing in Ricky Skaggs, Country Music’s Man of the Year that year, but he said he lost quite a bit of money on that event, and it took him another three years to make up for the loss.
He taught clog dancing at Teen Town, the local teen center, for about 15 years because there wasn’t much for teens and young adults to do around town, so he decided to offer his services. He did it every Thursday night. He learned clog dancing after he met a guy at a Bluegrass Festival up in Kenansville, who had just won the state championship for clog dancing, and he told Dr. Douglas it was very simple. He showed Dr. Douglas a few steps to practice during the week, and he practiced and practiced until he saw him at another festival. Then he taught him some more, and Dr. Douglas started teaching some of his family, and soon he started teaching teens and formed a teen troupe who performed at fairs, birthday parties, family reunions and anniversaries. They had a lot of fun, he said. Some of his children entered a contest in a Georgia County Fair and one of them won first place! It made for a lot of family fun, he said.
Dr. Douglas was a member of the city council for 16 years and served as mayor of Okeechobee for six of those years. He served on The Florida League of Cities in Tallahassee for two years, and was on the Housing and Urban Development Board of Directors for two years. While they were working on the re-channelization of the Kissimmee River, he served on that board for a couple years.
The Douglas family is huge and every year they have a family reunion the last Sunday in April where they have anywhere from 250 to 400 people. Dr. Douglas has four children — two girls and two boys. He has 10 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. Most of them still live here or at least close by but he does have some as far away as Idaho.