Rev. John Charles Doudna 1907 - 2009 Baldwin City

Iconic Baldwin City centenarian, the Reverend Charles Doudna, one of the founding fathers of the Maple Leaf Festival, died February 22nd in Lawrence. He was 101.
Doudna was a professor of philosophy and religion at Baker University for 22 years and was inducted into its Faculty Hall of Fame. He had many skills and passions, said Roger Boyd, a longtime Baker professor who was taught by Doudna at Baker. "Dr. Doudna was a great man with many talents and interests," Boyd said. "Besides getting the Maple Leaf Festival started with my dad (Ivan Boyd) and Tooley Whitley, he was very much interested in model trains and history. "He was also a true community leader and would do anything, it seemed, to help the community compete and grow."
The Rev. Ira DeSpain, Baker campus minister since 1992, also had Doudna as a professor. "He found ways of being both intellectual and spiritual and saw no conflict between the two," said DeSpain, a 1970 graduate. "With that combination, he served as an excellent role model to us all." Boyd, a professor of biology, studied religion under Doudna. "I remember taking a religion course from him 40 years ago, not quite like it was yesterday, but I can certainly remember the class," Boyd said. "It was one of my favorite classes outside of biology."
Doudna was active in numerous organizations at Baker, in the church and in Baldwin. He was a founder of the Santa Fe Historical Society and helped build the Santa Fe Depot and register several historical sites. "He didn't just think about things, he did them," said Santa Fe Historical Society officer Dorothea Jackson.
Doudna attended Washington & Jefferson College and earned his doctorate degree in theology from Yale University in 1939, the same year he married Evelyn, his beloved wife of 68 years, who died in 2008. They met when he was a pastor in western Pennsylvania. Three years later, he found himself as an Army chaplain in World War II and served in France after D-Day.
In 1953 the Doudnas moved to Baldwin City, he was chairman of the philosophy and religion departments in addition to his duties as a professor. Five years later, the Maple Leaf Festival was born.
Doudna celebrated his 100th birthday July 7, 2007 -- 7/7/07 -- at Baker and at Vintage Park, where the Doudnas moved about six years ago, after living 50 years in a house he'd built. Doudna left his mark at the retirement home too. "He was just an incredible man that everyone here so dearly loved," said Sue Brown, Vintage Park director. "I would say daily we learned something from Charles Doudna. I can't even begin to describe what he was like. He and Evelyn will be missed here at Vintage Park," she said. "Its an end of an era. It's been hard on everyone."
Doudna is survived by his son Roger, resident and director of the Findhorn Fellowship in Findhorn, Scotland; his daughter Christine, writer and editor, of New York City; his son-in-law Richard Grand-Jean, investment banker, of New York City; his two grandchildren, Molly, 22, a senior at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and Michael, 19, a freshman at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts; a sister, Jessie Phillips, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service celebrating the life of John Charles Doudna will be held Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 5 pm at the Baldwin First Methodist Church,704 8th Street, with a greeting period for family and friends to follow, in the church fellowship hall. The family requests memorial contributions to Baker University or Baldwin First Methodist Church, c/o Lamb Roberts Funeral Home, P.O. Box 64, Baldwin City, Kansas 66006. Online condolences may be shared with the Doudna family at