BCWRR Founder Doug Chancey passes away
April 29, 2004

Doug Chancey, founder of the Bitter Creek Western Railroad in the early 1980s, passed away April 29th of an apparent heart attack.

Saturday, May 8, 2004, 11:00am
Grover Beach Church of Christ
Corner of 8th Street and Rockaway Street
Grover Beach, CA [map]

Memorial gifts may be sent to:
Church of Christ
202 S. 8th
Grover Beach, CA 93433

If you'd like to remember Doug by sharing a brief story or thought for posting here on this page, please send it to Jamie Foster (the Webman). Send pictures, too!

Remembering Doug...

I am saddened also at the passing of Doug. He was the first person I met at Bitter Creek as I wandered in one day. He gave me a tour of the place on the Gator and then brought out the RMI engine for a run. Then up to his place to see the model trains and shoot the breeze. We are all proud of what he has done for Bitter Creek & Western and the live steam hobby. He will be missed. My condolences to all family and close friend who are mourning his loss at this time. Jeff Badger, Soquel Pacific Coast Railway

We are saddened to hear of the passing of our good friend Doug. He was a great person, always took time to talk to you and you were always welcome at the "Bitter Creek Railroad". Doug, we know you will be missed by many friends especially us. Our condolences go out to to the families and especially to Pat Chancey. John and Lucy Doorgeest

There are a lot of wonderful people in the live steam hobby, but there has always been only one "Doug." His presence always added joy to a gathering of railroaders, whether it was at Bitter Creek, RLS, or any of the California live steam railroads, down in Texas, or anywhere else. Our family has shared many happy hours with Doug and Pat. The times spent at Bitter Creek were especially rewarding enjoying the "big" and "little" railroads. Doug's dream will live on under Karl's care, and every time one comes around a curve, you will expect to see that happy face under that big hat. Thanks Doug for the wonderful years of friendship. Ken, Norma, Rich, Mat and Greg Casford

Doug Chancey was a pioneer. He was the first in the 7.5" gauge railroad hobby to have not just the desire to build a loop of track on which to give train rides, but the vision of creating a 7.5" gauge railroad where you could run a proper freight train. His attention to detail in the creation of the railroad and putting together a realistic twenty car train for operations was unique in the hobby and set the standard by which all other 7.5" gauge railroads are judged. Doug was more than a railroad builder. In a hobby where 7.5" gauge railroads typically die with their creators, Doug took the time and effort to find a worthy successor during his lifetime and to make sure that there was an orderly transition in ownership and operation. He set the standard by which other transition efforts in the hobby will be judged. But Doug was more than a builder and preserver. He was a tireless promoter of the hobby to all who would listen. He was a true gentleman in the best Southern tradition. And above all, he was a friend. For all of these things, we will warmly remember Doug Chancey. Quentin Breen

The Bitter Creek and Western was the first private 1.5 scale layout I had visited after seeing a few club layouts, all I could say was WOW. Doug could not have been a more gracious host by any sense of what the word host means and continued to do so until his untimely death. Doug as a host and the Bitter Creek and Western as a scale railroad have set higher standards for all of us to follow. Thank you Doug. Ron Atkinson, Chula Vista Live Steamers

Doug's passing is very sad news as Doug ALWAYS had a positive and encouraging word for everyone. It was his vision that created the Bitter Creek and Western RR and his persistence over many years that made it a reality. Many visitors say it is the nicest RR on the west coast and we are lucky that Doug found someone to take over and preserve the RR for us all. Doug will truely be missed when we go to Bitter Creek and no one says 'hey pardner'. He was a very special, extremely wonderful and fair individual and I feel thankful I was lucky enough to call him a friend. My condolences to his wife, Pat. Leonard Evans/Highiron1999

In our present day society there are people that do not respond to letters or phone calls. They have an attitude that they don't care much about anything. Doug was 100% committed to his task and by the same token when you talked to Doug you had 100% of his attention. He said what he meant and meant what he said. Andy Wightman

What a shock to learn of your departure when there were still so many great things to be done and so many good times to have had whenever you were around! But we all understand. Thank you for your teachings, your patience, and your work. I was really inspired by you to try harder and better but also to take playing and sharing more seriously in life, for myself - and others. I had the opportunity to thank you for everything while in this plane of existence, now it is in my prayers I shall remember you. See ya later on my friend. Sol Reyes

I am a Christian brother of Doug and I want all of his friends to know that we had opened all the windows in our Church because it was quite warm during his Memorial service. Shortly after the preacher had finished his talk about Doug, and one of his friends had started talking, a strange thing happened. It would be difficult to convince anyone why, at that moment, the train went by and the engineer let go with four distinct whistle blows. These were not mournful but lively whistles. I am sure only God knows the answer. Buzz Harmon.

It broke my heart to hear about Doug's passing. I have many fond "growing up" memories of Bittercreek Western Railroad, the gathering room and model railroading layouts, and the "Drunken Runs" hosted by Doug. I will always remember Doug as a "rough edged" teddy bear, someone who had no problem speaking his mind but would bend over backwards to help a friend in need, or give a kind word when needed as well. I hope that wherever he is now, that he's at the controls of a locomotive, chuffing his way down the track. I send my condolences to Doug's family too.... and share in mourning the loss of a great man... With great respect and many fond memories, Susan (Suzz) Williams (a.k.a. Susan Lintner, Dave Jr.'s little Sis)

There are no words that can adequately describe the void left in this world by the passing of Doug. He was, without a doubt, "the best friend you could ever have". Farewell. Dan Andrews

I first met Doug in Houston at David Hannah's Browning RR in 1991, I think. The following year Doug invited us to the BCW and when we got there I felt at home immediately. He even had BCW jackets made for us with our names on them. I loved Doug from the minute I met him as did all of you. The last time I saw Doug was this past October at Roy and Marilyn Pickard's Comanche and Indian Gap RR in Priddy, TX. Doug was in great pain but wanted a last ride around the RR, so we loaded up in my ATSF RS 2 and off we went. We had one derailment and here is Doug in all his pain trying to re-rail the equipment. Just like Doug!! My new wife Susan got to meet Doug and Pat and spent many hours in their RV as Susan has had some major pain from a strep infection in her back. She and Doug had a common bond. When Susan wrote a note to Pat, she was crying the whole time. Doug, we will miss you and now know that you are now free from pain. We will love you always, Peter and Susan Bryan, Houston, TX

I was introduced to Doug at a very young age... In 1974 / '75 when I was 4 or 5 years old I believe... At a time when the HO scale Railroad was still being finished and the O scale was just a bunch of shelves in the shape of a track plan, with track attached to some of them... It was my father, RON NELSON SR., a very close and personal friend to Doug who introduced me, and they together with the HO club eventually taught me how to dispatch trains in the control tower, screen sand into a coffee can for landscape, and learn the basic rules of the road, and switch yards. I am 33 years old now, and although I didn't associate with Doug and his family too much over the years, every time I did see him at the Bitter Creek RR, he was always warm and friendly to my brother and I, was always concerned with the health of our father, and when we introduced the "gurney car" we customized from a 10' lowboy kit, to get our father around the railroad, he remarked how it was the most kind and inventive thing he'd ever seen 2 boys do for their father, and told us to keep taking good care of him. Like my father, I have lots of fond memories of Doug, the little MINI MULE we played with as kids, the geese that chased us, all the various barnyard animals and the little kid-sized house in the yard, the GIANT live steam engine project in the shop..... Well, it saddened my father's heart, and brought a tear to his eyes to hear of the passing of his very good long-time friend, but saddened him even more to find out about it so long after the fact, as the news was not discovered until my visit to the web page today June 5th. There is a long list of stories and adventures that will always be spoken of and remembered involving Doug, my father, my brother and especially myself, and although Doug no longer exists on this earth, his memory and legacy will live on forever in all of us. We send our deepest regards, Ron Nelson Sr. and the Nelson Family... Virginia, Ron Jr., and me, Clinton Nelson

One of my most prized possessions is a personal invitation to The BCWRR signed by Doug. I can still remember my first visit to the track, and Doug's great smile, big handshake and words to me "We only have one rule here, HAVE FUN". Doug came by the steaming bay as I steamed up and gave me way too many compliments on my engine. Like most people, the first time I drove the track I was amazed and awestruck that one man could have such a great imagination and the energy to build a world-class layout like The BCWRR. As the day went on and we passed many times on the track, we'd blast whistles at each other and he just grinned. I could tell by his smile that sharing all of this was the best part for him, and he got such a kick out of seeing my wife drive our locomotive, too. At the end of the day as I was loading our engine, he showed that great sense of humor of his by saying to me "What the hell are you doing loading MY engine in your car", it turned in to a running joke between us for several years. We'll both miss him dearly, Dave and Geraldine August

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