“Doug was so personable. He didn’t know a stranger,” Champaign County OSU Extension 4-H Program Assistant Marcia Hatcher said. “He enjoyed kids, enjoyed giving them good wholesome activities and experiences.”
Urbana resident Doug Dill died Thursday, April 14. He was a 1967 Graham High School graduate, who received his bachelor’s degree from Urbana University and his master’s degree from Ohio State University. He retired in 2002 after 30 years as a Champaign County 4-H Extension agent.
Dill loved 4-H Camp Clifton, OSU football, camping, woodworking and spending time with his family, according to his obituary, which appeared in Saturday’s Daily Citizen.
“His biggest passions were camp and fair,” Champaign County OSU 4-H Extension Educator and county director Melinda Morrison said. “He was very passionate about people. He wanted to help them succeed.”
Morrison became to county’s 4-H Extension agent two years after Dill retired. She was a 4-H member, attendee and camp counselor at Camp Clifton for years with Dill.
“Everything that Doug was in, I was in as a kid. I kind of thought, or made a comment one time, ‘Boy, I’d love to have Doug Dill’s job some day.’ And here I am,” she said.
Morrison said she called on Dill a lot when she started, because of knowledge about the role.
“It’s a different side of 4-H when you are in this position than when you are in 4-H or as an advisor. He had lots of knowledge to pass on to everybody,” she said.
Morrison said her fondest memories are from 4-H camp when Dill was in charge.
Dill was an organized individual, his friends and associates said. Hatcher said she had worked with him for six years when he retired, and he had everything running like clockwork.
“He had everything down to a science. He had learned what was effective and what was not effective,” she said.
Efficient and friendly
Longtime friend and retired Champaign County OSU Extension Ag agent Jack Sommers also remembered Dill as dedicated and efficient, in his role at the extension office.
“He was very efficient at all those things. He liked doing it, and did it for a long time. Not too many people made a career of being a 4-H agent. He was dedicated to the program,” Sommers said.
Sommers met Dill in high school, when he was a senior and Dill was a freshman. They met showing pigs as part of the Agricultural Education program. Over the years, the two crossed paths – whether at 4-H Camp Clifton, or through the profession. Sommers was a 4-H agent in Washington Court House, eventually moving to Champaign County and working with Dill. They worked in the same office for 18 years.
Dill wasn’t all business, Sommers said. Dill was known to be talkative and friendly with everyone.
“He really enjoyed the office staff, too,” Sommers added. “He really enjoyed the people he worked with. There were a lot of good experiences.”
Sommers and Hatcher said they were surprised to hear of Dill’s death.
“Nobody expects a friend to go at age 66,” Sommers said. “I knew he had some health problems, but he was still pretty active. He always looked so young.”
“I had just had a good conversation with him a few days before,” Hatcher said. “He had stopped in the office about a fair trophy he always sponsored.”
Dill also loved history and would often tie together that love with his love of 4-H.
“When he got his master’s degree, one of his projects was the history of the fair, so he put together some really neat information and history,” Morrison said.
Dill was the president of the county historical society, a position he held about 10 years ago as well, Champaign County Historical Society and Museum Curator Charles “Dick” Virts said.
“He was a great guy,” he said. “He could just move into things and they just seemed to happen. He did a tremendous job here. He was a great organizational-type guy. He didn’t seem to work at it; he just had it in him. Things just seemed to go right when Doug got a hold of it.”
Virts said he knew Dill for nearly 50 years, noting Dill was running the 4-H camps when his two daughters were in the program.
Though Dill was dedicated to 4-H, he was equally passionate about his own family, Sommers said.
“The thing that may not have been obvious to everybody is that he really loved his work and he really loved his family. He was dedicated to both of them,” he said. “He put the effort forth to make both parts of his life mesh together and be successful.”
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.