Saltwater Portrait

Doug Boozer has a big heart

Milton excavator helps where he can
Doug Boozer helps Blake Robinson, 6 of Wilmington, drive a crane. Robinson was able to lift up a traffic cone, wave it around and drop it back to the ground. BY RACHEL SWICK MAVITY
September 18, 2012

It’s election season, and politicians are doing their best to sell themselves to voters by trumpeting an honest work ethic and hours of volunteer work.

But Doug Boozer is not a politician, and trumpeting is not his style. “All of us owe it to our community to help with charities,” Boozer said.

Every summer, the MOMS Club of Rehoboth Beach holds its annual Touch-a-Truck fundraiser.  This year’s July event raised more than $9,000 for March of Dimes Delaware.

The event allows children to get a close-up, hands-on look at police cars, fire trucks, and bulldozers.  Every summer, Doug Boozer brings some of his equipment from Boozer Excavation to add to the experience.

Boozer, 49, said he began participating with Touch-a-Truck about four years ago, when a friend, Buck McLamb, asked him to get involved.

“The kids, they get in and they touch everything,” he said.  “Some of them really get geeked.”

Boozer said he is impressed with how much children can do without his help.  “Their hand-eye coordination is a lot better than when I was a kid,” he said.  Boozer attributes the youngsters’ skill to video games.  “I just had Pong,” he said.

Boozer said he enjoys helping young children try to run the machines, but some kids pull at his heartstrings more than others.  At the July Touch-a-Truck fundraiser in Rehoboth Beach, Boozer said he helped a disabled boy operate a crane.

He said the boy’s siblings, who had no visible disabilities, had already been in the crane with him.  The boy’s mother then tentatively asked if the disabled boy could come up.

“I said, ‘That’s what it’s all about,’” Boozer said.  “There’s no little kid I’m going to say ‘no’ to.”

Boozer said he hoisted the boy into the crane with him, got him to wrap his small hands around the joysticks, and helped him move the machine.  Though Boozer said he couldn’t see the boy’s face, by the look on his mother’s face, he believes the boy was having fun.

“It really touched me,” he said.  “It chokes me up to think about it.”

“My dad beat into our heads: Be thankful for what you’ve got,” Boozer said.  “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Boozer grew up in Townsend, Md., where his father, Vernon Boozer, worked his way through Duke University and University of Maryland School of Law.  His father was a Maryland state delegate and senator for nearly 30 years.

But Boozer said he never wanted to be a politician. With his father’s help, he said, he left home to attend Salisbury State College, now Salisbury University, in 1983. “I just stayed; couldn’t leave.  I fell in love with the area,” he said.

Boozer said he spent his summers working at the Starboard in Dewey Beach, where now-owner Steve Montgomery was only a bar back at the time.

Boozer said his grades at Salisbury began to drop, and his father’s financial support went with them. In his final year of college, Boozer lived in Seaford with family friend, former Sussex County Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul Ellis. “He did a lot to raise me,” Boozer said.

A few years after graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in business, Boozer moved to Milton and opened Boozer Excavation in 1990.

Boozer said he enjoys his work, but he takes time out to help those around him.

Besides MOMS Club, Boozer has also volunteered for Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Georgetown, including cutting the lawn outside the facility and helping with the building’s infrastructure.

Boozer said he’s a sucker for animals.  He and Lisa Hammond, his girlfriend of 15 years, have a slew of pets in their Milton home, all of which were rescues.

Boozer said Hammond found the couple’s dog, Sadie, walking down Route 30 six years ago, skinny and soaking wet.  He said Hammond told him she would clean the dog, feed it and take it to a shelter.

“It’s been about six years now, and she sleeps right here every night,” Boozer said, motioning to the underside of his arm.

Boozer is also a sitting master of the Freemason lodge in Reliance, outside Seaford, where the group does charity work for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Whether it’s in business or in his personal life, Boozer said he tries to help people when he can.  “One of my better friends is one of my biggest competitors,” he said.

Between running his own small business and periodic volunteer work, Boozer said he doesn’t have time for much more than church on Sunday.  “Life’s pretty full,” he said.  “I try to get eight hours of sleep a night.”

“I’m not somebody that’s going to have monuments named after them, or streets,” he said.  “When I die, at least people will be able to say, ‘He was a decent guy; he tried to do right.’”

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