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Travis, Bonnie and cars
NORWAY – Having a tough start in life has not been a deterrent to Doug Van Durme or prevented him from enjoying a successful and happy life. His greatest joy is his family and his greatest sorry was the loss of his son Travis in a tragic accident.
Q: Where were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born in Mount Kisco, New York and my family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when I was 7 and I lived there until I met my wife Bonnie.
Q: Do you have many siblings?
A: I have seven ... two brothers and five sisters.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My father was a mechanic until he retired and my mother stayed home.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: I had it very rough growing up until I met Bonnie in 1976.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: I have always loved cars so I guess I’m doing what I always wanted working at Bessey Motor Sales.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Fort Lauderdale and South Plantation, Florida
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: I worked for a bank in Dania, Florida (computer operation center), Miami and Fort Lauderdale Airport (baggage Handler), Cornwall Traditions, Paris Farmers Union (truck driver), Ripley & Fletcher (sales and sales manager) and Bessey Motors in sales since 1994.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: Bonnie came down to Plantation, Florida to visit her sister in 1976. Her sister “set us up for a date” and it has been a wonderful life ever since. This April we will be married for 35 years.
Q: What did you do for work when you got married?
A: I worked at Cornwall Traditions in South Paris.
Q: Anyone ever said you look like someone famous?
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: Not when I was younger but since then many places.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: All the places that I’ve traveled to have been fascinating in their own way. It’s always nice to go to another country and learn their culture and see how they live.
Q: Did anyone influence you to the point of changing your direction in life?
A: The manager at the bank gave me a chance when I was 18 and helped me learn computer operations in the bank then after one year I was the supervisor.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I took up golfing about 15 years ago.
A: I belong to Kiwanis, Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce and the board of Androscoggin Savings Bank.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: Book? Ha ha, no thanks ... I’ll wait for it to come out in the movie theater.
Q: What is the one thing you would not give up?
A: My family.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: Marry Bonnie again!
Q: Do you have any children?
A: Two, Erica and Travis and one grandchild, Makenna.
Q: What was the best memory this interview brought back?
A: Meeting Bonnie’s family and all of the people I’ve met over the years.
Q: What scares you the most?
A: Having a State Police trooper at my door to tell me something tragic.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I was abducted by Aliens ... just kidding. Because of my childhood and being in foster homes until I was 18, I know that I have family in New York (Dansville) and I tried to contact them a couple of times but, because my father was the “black sheep” of the family I couldn’t get much information from anybody.
Then in 2002 my wife’s boos at the time (Moe Convey) was in Bethel for Mollyockett Days and called Bonnie and said that there were all kinds of people with “Van Durme reunion” on their shirts.
Bonnie thought that Moe was playing a joke or something then Moe handed his phone to one of them with a “Van Durme” shirt on to talk to Bonnie and come to find out it was my first cousin Tom that I have never met and that there were over 30 of my family members there that I also had never met.
That summer we spent a lot of time at “The Big House” in Bryant Pond and now I keep in contact with all of them. The odd thing about this is that my son Travis was killed three weeks later and almost all of them came back to support Bonnie and I.
Q: Last day on earth, what would you do and with whom?
A: Find a warm tropical beach and relax there with my family.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, whom would you most like to see?
A: My son Travis.
Q: Any regrets?
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Selling vehicles at Bessey Motors.
Q: Any heroes?
A: All the men and women who serve our country everyday.