"Do It All"
It was the Spring of 1976. Four scruffy teenagers were playing a game of fencies, a daily ritual at the time, on the old Senior League field at Brookline Park. The left field fence was short, only about 250 feet, with a thirty foot chicken-wire extension. It was more like home run derby. Another pitch and another long drive over the fence.
Rather than rounding the bases, the slugger took off down the third base line, hopped the fence, searched for and retrieved the ball. As Dugout Doug did the dubious home run trot, his fellow fencers Big Bo, Moondog and Dugluke yelled out, "Do it all, Man." If only Norman Rockwell was there to capture the moment. It was pure Americana, Brookline-style.
Douglas Brendel was born on September 27, 1961, to Regina and Joseph Brendel. His family, including brothers Michael and Chris, lived in a nice corner lot on Berkshire Avenue. He attended Carmalt, Resurrection Elementary and South Hills Catholic High School.
Like most Brookline youngsters at the time, Doug was a member of the Brookline Little League, playing Senior League baseball for Denmark's Cafe and Coach George Kinzel. His sandlot years in Brookline lasted until 1977. Although he had talent, Doug's true glory days came later, during his playing career in the local softball leagues.
A gifted artist, Brendel attended the Art Institute in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1981. Doug's first job was as a graphic designer for Pitt Studios. He moved to Vance, Wright and Adams the following year. In 1983, the first-year apprentice competed among several established professionals to create concept logos for the Pittsburgh Maulers football franchise. He was a major contributor to the winning submission. Soon his work was seen all over town. Among his fellow fencers, Doug had hit the big time and was "doing it all."
Doug's career in graphic design included layouts for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, as well as several corporate and small businesses throughout the Pittsburgh area. His clients included Winkys, PPG, Duquesne Light, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Heinz, U.S. Steel and Eat'n Park. In 1989, after a few years in the wild world of Mad Men, Brendel decided on a career change and joined the United States Army.
Beginning in 1986, Doug had been corresponding with General Matthew Ridgway. The two became friends. "I met him a few times at his home in Fox Chapel. He was my main inspiration. I wanted to earn my Jump Wings. Also, instead of reading about history, I wanted to experience some first-hand. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was worth it."
At age 28, he was by far the oldest recruit, and aptly nicknamed Mr. Geritol. After completing infantry training at Fort Benning, Doug went to airborne training school, and was soon a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was assigned to the 2nd/11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Bad Kissingen, Germany. The 2nd/11th ACR was an elite Border Guard unit responsible for monitoring the West German border with Czechoslovakia.
His years in the military were some of the most exciting in his life. Doug, a veteran of thirty-five airdrops, thirty of which were over Germany, was introduced to the latest in military hardware and looks back with pride at his time patrolling "The Trace" along the Iron Curtain. Private Brendel participated in the last official Border Mission in May 1990.
Doug recalls one situation where it wasn't quite so exciting. While doing live Mortar drills, there was a mis-fire. "Since I dropped the mortar round that got stuck, I was given the mission, along with my Platoon Sergeant, to remove the 150lb Four-Duce Mortar tube from the vehicle, with the live round still inside. Wearing flak jackets, we carried the tube to a safe zone 300 yards away. If the live round would have shifted ..."
In addition to his experiences with the 2nd/11th ACR, Brendel visited the Berlin Wall in February 1990, only two months after the wall fell. He traveled to Berlin for Unification Day, when East and West Germany came together, signalling the end of the Cold War. Once again, as we were struggling through the trials and tribulations of everyday life, Doug was galavanting around Europe "doing it all."
After his time in the service, Doug returned to Pittsburgh. From 1993 to 2005 he was back in the advertising business, and continues to work on freelance projects. Currently, he spends most of his time as a speculator in rare memorabilia, merchandise and artifacts.
As one of the fencers who yelled "do it all" back in the simpler days, when baseball was life and school days were our biggest worry, I've known Doug since kindergarten. We went to grade school and high school together, then hung around with each other for several years until my career took me to Ohio. We stayed in touch during his time in the Army. After my return to Pittsburgh, I began the Brookline Connection website. Soon, Doug and I were working together, gathering information and preserving our community history. It seemed like old times.
An avid Brookline and Pittsburgh historian, Doug has contributed a lot of photos and research to this website. We have collaborated on a few cool projects, most notably the restoration of the last-remaining Skybus vehicle. Skybus was an innovative People-Mover technology designed and tested here in Pittsburgh. Although the project did not catch on in this city, it has since become a world-renowned system.
Through Doug's tireless efforts and devout dedication, that piece of Pittsburgh's history has been preserved and is on display at Bombardier's Headquarters in West Mifflin. Ask anyone involved in the restoration project and they will tell you that Mr. Brendel arduously "did it all."
Doug's graphic design artistry was once again called upon in 2012 when he designed a new concept shirt for the Brookline Breeze 5K Fitness Run/Walk. Rather than using the same Breeze Logo, which had adorned the race shirts for several years, Race Director Clint Burton called upon Dough to design a series of commemorative designs to highlight various iconic Brookline locations along the route of the race.
His designs began in 2012 with an image of runners passing the Brookline firehouse. This classic design was followed in 2013 by runners passing the War Memorial and Presbyterian Church. In 2014, his design featured runners along Pioneer Avenue passing Brookline Elementary School. The fourth design was to highlight the finish line scene at Brookline Park. It was put on hold for a while and will be unveiled at some point in the future. These were some of the most well received Breeze shirt designs in the long history of the race.
Another of "Do It All" Doug's local initiatives concerned the rehabilitation of the century-old Brookline Firehouse. Over it's many years of service, the historic building was desperately in need of an aesthetic overhaul. At Doug's urging, the city began with the windows, removing the blackout paint from World War II and painting the rosettes in a pleasing Victorian style.
Working with Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, other improvements soon followed. New windows were installed in the firehouse tower and a blue light lit at night to honor fallen policemen and firefighters. The concrete facade of the building was sandblasted, the copper eaves repaired and the roof replaced. The end result was fantastic.
Doug's imprint on the firehouse did not end with the outside renovations. It extended into the garage, where he began in initiative to honor one of Brookline's most beloved personalities and honorary fireman, George Gilfoyle with a commeorative plaque honoring his many years of service to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire and the Brookline Community.
The bronze plaque was hung in the firehouse lobby on August 8, 2015. It marked the first time in Pittsburgh history that a commeorative plaque was hung in a municipal facility to honor a living person. It was a wonderful gesture for a wonderful man, one that immortalized Brother George as an example of how much a kind word and a smile can mean in this world we live in.
Today, Doug's interests are far-ranging. With regards to Brookline, he is interested in collecting historic artifacts like sections of the old Kuntz Bakery railing, trolley rail tracks, commemorative spoons, photos and other items to possibly be displayed in a proposed Brookline History display. He also occupies his time as the administrator of several facebook pages, including "Who Remembers Skybus," "The Brookline Historical Society" and the notorious "Brookline Uncensored," where he just might be the community's very own Howard Stern.
Doug currently resides in Brookline. His brother, Dr. Michael Brendel, another major contributor to the website, lives in Centerville, Ohio, with his wife Cecilia and their children Kristina and David. Mike has retired from LAU Industries where he was Vice President of Engineering and Marketing. Doug's younger sibling, Chris, better known as "Fritz," is a Commercial Insurance Underwriter for the states of North Carolina and Virginia, living in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has two kids, daughter Jenson and son Joe. Doug's father, Joseph, a retired advertising executive, still resides in the family home on Berkshire Avenue.
My good friend is always prepared to take on a new challenge. Whatever creative project lies ahead, one thing is for certain. That familiar phrase will be on the tip of my tongue ...
"Do it all, Doug."
* "'Do it all, Doug' ... in a Nutshell" - Written by Clint Burton, October 2011 - Updated April 27, 2018 *
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