Bolling F. Douglas

Bolling F. Douglas, born July 7, 1926, passed away Aug. 3, 2016, at age 90 in Tiger at Cannon Wood Village. 

She was born to a life on the water. Bolling was a remarkable woman, who lived her 90 years to the fullest, accomplishing many firsts as a woman in the marine industry.

Bolling grew up on the St John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida. She married Allen H. Douglas in 1948. She bought the first family boat in 1955, and spent that summer in a mechanic’s garage learning about engines so that she could maintain her own boats.

Fearlessly independent, as a young mother, she sailed solo from Augusta to Savannah on an 8-foot dinghy that she and her husband built from a Sears Roebuck kit. She completed the weeklong journey equipped only with her sail, oars and supplies. She later trained in celestial navigation and became a licensed boat captain. At age 50, Bolling also became a private airplane pilot.

Moving to Atlanta in 1962, the family spent every available moment afloat on Lake Lanier. The family owned a Chinese junk that was a fixture on the lake in the 1960s and 1970s. Bolling spent her last years of independent living on Last Dance, her houseboat on Lake Lanier at University Yacht Club.

Bolling accomplished much in the male-dominated marine industry. She had her own marine survey business and in 1975 was the first female accredited by the National Association of Marine Surveyors. She often served as an expert witness in court. As both member and first and only chairwoman of the American Boat and Yacht Council, Bolling influenced boat manufacturing by recommending stricter technical and safety standards.

Bolling played an important role in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics sailing venue in Savannah as the senior marine safety expert. Unique to the event but no surprise to those who knew her, there were no marine accidents or personal injuries during those games.

Bolling had a long and rewarding career as a volunteer in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. In 1979, she was the first female elected as district commodore, Seventh Coast Guard District Auxiliary. Shortly after she was elected district commodore, Bolling assisted with the deployment of Auxiliary personnel and assets in ‘Operation Key Ring’, as part of the 1980 Cuban Refugee Sealift. On another occasion, Bolling and her crew were awarded the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Plaque of Merit for pulling a burning boat away from the University Yacht Club fuel dock and releasing it only minutes before it exploded. 

Taught by her father that “service was a proud journey,” she exemplified that belief throughout her life.

Bolling was the daughter of R. Adm. Robert M. Fortson, USN, Ret. and Nellie S. Phinizy. Her late husband was Allen Harrison Douglas, an executive with Southern Railway in Atlanta. 

She is survived by her son Allen H. Douglas (Lallie) and their children, Allen H. Douglas III (Samantha) and Elizabeth (Beth) Bolling D. Lilly (Abel); her daughter Anne D. Hartridge (Claude) and their children Anne Bolling (Abby) Hartridge (Mike Capito) and Caroline L. Hartridge (Elaine Danoff); and her son Malcolm B. Douglas (Debbie Schultz) and his children with Patsy R. Douglas, Julia Bolling Douglas and T. Harrison Douglas, and step-children Geoffrey R. Rowson (Tyler) and Morgan O. Shaughnessy. Bolling’s great-grandchildren are Isabella L. Hartridge-Beam, Addison J. Lilly and Thallen J. Lilly. 

All of the above family and special friends were with her on July 15 to celebrate her 90th birthday. 

Her surviving siblings are Cmdr. R. Malcolm Fortson Jr. USN, Ret.; Nellie F. Hull; and Janet F. Walthall Beaty. 

Predeceased siblings are Anne Wright F. Freeman and Capt. Thomas E. Fortson, USN, Ret.

Memorial services will take place on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at 1:15 p.m. in Tiger at Cannon Wood Village; on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at the University Yacht Club, Lake Lanier, Flowery Branch; and on a date later in September at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville.

A donation in memory of Bolling F. Douglas may be made to the American Boat and Yacht Council, 613 3rd Street, No. 10, Annapolis, Maryland, 21403, or to the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance fund at 1005 N. Glebe Rd No. 220, Arlington, Virginia, 22201.

The Clayton Tribune, Aug. 11, 2016

The Clayton Tribune

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