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Oh brother, what an athlete he was

Four brothers got together recently to talk about their fifth and oldest brother. This wasn't a planned meeting, however. This wasn't the way Bob, Tom, Jim and Mike Kingery wanted to share stories about Doug's athletic prowess and how they looked up to him growing up.

Doug was found dead at his home in Atwater last week at age 56. He hadn't been feeling well and recently been diagnosed with diabetes. Still, it was a shock the other siblings, who then had to break the depressing news to their mother, Marion, whom they found playing the organ at church. Their father, Ken, had passed away three years earlier.

"That was the hardest thing we've ever had to do," said Mike. "Parents don't expect to bury their children."

Although Mike was 11 years Doug's junior, he got to play on his older brother's softball team.

"I was 18 then and I did whatever Doug told me to do," said Mike. "He'd tell me to hit a ground ball to the shortstop and beat it out. So I would hit a ground ball to the shortstop and try to beat it out."

And even though Mike went on to become a major league baseball player for 12 seasons, many close to the Kingery family felt Doug was the best athlete in the family.

"I've heard people say that," Mike said proudly. "And they're probably right. He was good at everything he did."

That's one reason why Doug was named the Most Valuable Player on his high school baseball team in Atwater four straight years. And he also stood out in football and basketball.

He also went on to become a three-sport star at Willmar Community College (now Ridgewater College).

But people who knew Doug in recent years, remember him as one of the best bowlers the area has ever produced. He rolled a 300 games 10 times, his first coming at age 13. The Kingery family owned the Atwater Bowling Center for 25 years. Doug, Bob and Jim then owned it for 10 years and Doug alone for two. Doug sold the business 10 years ago.

Doug participated in two U.S. Open Bowling Tournaments, once being paired with legendary bowler Dick Weber. He was also a member of the Minnesota Loons Bowling Team that won the American Bowling Congress team event.

Doug also became proficient at slow-pitch softball, billiards and golf.

The past two years, he worked at the Little Crow Country Club in Spicer.

"There just wasn't much he couldn't do when he set his mind to it," said Mike, who spoke at the funeral Tuesday at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Atwater.

The church was filled with those paying last respects. Many had played sports with and against him.

Doug's high school football coach, Deryl Ramey spoke about how, as a quarterback, Doug had lost confidence and was benched. But instead of brooding about it, he responded admirably and led his team to an unbeaten 8-0 season.

Other family members spoke, as well as his boss, Sam Drodofsky, the general manager and head golf pro at Little Crow.

"It was nice to see so many people showing the love and respect they had for my brother," said Mike.

And the brothers' sports stories will continue whenever they get together again. And Doug's athletic prowess will likely be the topic of conversation.