Civic leader, physical therapist Doug Wehrman succumbs to long illness

PARIS — Doug Wehrman, chairman of the Paris Economic Development Corporation board of directors, died Thursday night, after a long illness. He was 62.

Doug Wehrman

Doug Wehrman

Douglas Eugene Wehrman was born March 23, 1950, in Baltimore, Md.. He died at 8:08 p.m. Thursday at his residence at 1050 Wilburn Driver in Paris.

He had been in hospice care.He was a longtime physical therapist with Paris Physical Therapy Associates and in 1978 founded the city’s first physical therapy and sports clinic, through which he paved the way for ongong athletic care in Paris and Lamar County.

Memorial services will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.

Immediately following will be a reception at the church. Afterward, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the family will receive guests at their home at 1050 Wilburn Drive in Paris.

He is survived by his wife, Rosanna Wehrman; daughter Stacey and husband Jim Feeley of Traverse City, Mich.; son Russel Wehrman and wife Beth of Richardson; and granddaughters Adelaide, Regan and Chandler Feeley of Traverse City.

In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the Doug Wehrman Scholarship Fund at First Federal Community Bank of Paris –  www.1st-fed.com.

After retirement in 2008, Wehrman became involved in civic affairs. He was appointed by the Paris City Council to the PEDC board in 2010 and was completing his third year on the board. He was named chairman last May.

Paris mayor, Dr. AJ Hashmi, said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Wehrman’s passing.

“I had the honor to know him and had great respect for him. I would like to extend my condolences to the family. Mr. Wehrman was a respected member of the community, and I got to know him well over the last two years. His work for the community and leadership in the PEDC will be remembered and missed,” Hashmi said.

“Doug was always well-informed. He read up on everything having to do with economic develpment, and he really became a knowldgeable and informed person — really as much or more than any board member that I’ve worked with, even in other cities,” PEDC executive director Steve Gilbert said.

Wehrman, in the Superman shirt he wore to a PEDC meeting last June. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

Wehrman, in the Superman shirt he wore to a PEDC meeting last June. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

“Doug was always prepared. He knew the issues, and he read up on everything. Not long after Doug was appointed to the PEDC, we attended an economic development conference, and he was like a sponge. He took in everything, he listened very closely, and then he came back and he was involved in our planning process. He really was there every step of the way last year during 2012, when we had a phenomenal year,” Gilbert added.

“Even after his heart surgery and everything, Doug stayed engaged and informed and active. He was a great salesman for Paris. He met with companies, he met with prospects, he was able to sell Paris, and he was really more than you can ask for as an active and engaged board member and chairman,” Gilbert said.

As a physical therapist, Wehrman worked closely with Paris High School athletes for the past 40 years.

Paul Trull, superintendent of the Paris Independent School District, praised Wehrman as someone who “was just tireless” in is efforts.

Wehrman was presented an award in 2008 in a halftime ceremony at Noyes Field in recognition to his service to hundreds of students, Trull recalled.

“He began working with the school district in 1972,” Trull said.

“He was a backbone in keeping kids healthy as long as I can remember. He was here when I came here 30 years ago. The kids liked him, because he was full of energy, and he really cared,” Trull said.

“He fought a good fight against what he was up against with his illness, and everybody admired him for that. He always had the kids first, at heart. He was instrumental in starting the Wildcat Club at Paris High School.”

Wehrman has two children, Russell and Stacy, who came through Paris High School.

“Russell was a golfer, and Stacy was a cheerleader, and so they were always involved in athletics all the way through. Doug was just a proponent of doing good things for kids,” Trull remembered.

Gilbert said that, even beyond Wehrman’s work at PEDC, it was apparent that the time he spent with students was probably his biggest joy.

“Over the course of his career, he helped countless kids. He called them his kids, and he took care of all these kids at Paris High School through the years as a physical therapist. And last football season, even, he was out on the field! And so, he really loved taking care of people, especially young people, and there are kids all over Paris — he remembered them all, and they remembered him. He would find a way to help a kid, and you know, that kid couldn’t afford the kind of care that they were getting,” Gilbert said.

“He was a good man, a good passionate guy,” Gilbert said.

Several people posted messages of tribute on Facebook.

“We lost a good man today.  Doug Wehrman passed away last night.  I served on PEDC with Doug and am glad I got to know him.  Requiescat in pace meus amicus!” wrote County Court-in-Law Judge Bill Harris.

Jay Guest said in a post: “Larger than life and always with the best attitude. I will miss that laugh, too.”

Bret Holbert, a Paris firefighter, said: “Doug was a good guy.  Always quick with a smile and a good word. He will be missed.”

Rickey Richardson: “Such a very good man! Prayers with the family.”

Joe H. IUglehart: “He fought it for a long time. RIP Doug.”

Wehrman was a veteran, having served his country during the Vietnam war. He attended Southern Miss and Ole Miss and receved his B.S. degree in physical therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Gaveston before interning at John Sealy Hospital, the Houston VA, and Galveston Orthopedics.

 By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra.com

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Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.