Joseph F. Douglass, 80, SSA claims examiner

January 05, 2004

Joseph Francis Douglass, a retired Social Security Administration claims examiner and Navy veteran of World War II, died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Beechwood Assisted Living in Catonsville. He was 80.

Mr. Douglass was born in Amesbury, Mass., and raised near Lake Placid, N.Y. He joined the Navy a few months after his 1941 graduation from Lake Placid High School.

He served as a radioman and gunner on Kingfisher planes launched from the battleship USS South Dakota. His honors included an Air Medal for his service in the air during a bombardment.

Mr. Douglass earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Syracuse University and completed the coursework toward a master's degree. During that time, he kept up correspondence with the sister of a Navy friend, the former Anne "Jean" Fiscella, and they were married in 1948.

He worked 30 years for Social Security, which moved him to several cities before offering him a job in the Baltimore area. Mr. Douglass moved to Catonsville in 1961.

As a disability claims examiner, one of his responsibilities was to help write regulations relating to people with black lung disease, and he testified before Congress on the issue.

While he enjoyed his career, "He considered his greatest achievement to be his four daughters and subsequently his seven grandchildren," his wife said.

Mr. Douglass retired at age 57 and was able to enjoy a number of recreational activities. "He was frequently seen jogging through Catonsville, usually with one of his daughters," said the eldest, Jo-Anne Stough of Baltimore.

He also competed in the Maryland Senior Olympics in tennis, golf, bowling and pool, earning a gold medal for the latter.

Memorial services will be held after visiting hours, which begin at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Sterling-Ashton-Schwab Funeral Home, 736 Edmondson Ave. in Catonsville.

In addition to his wife, daughter and grandchildren, Mr. Douglass is survived by his other daughters, Christine Jacobs and Cheryl Dunigan, both of Catonsville, and Lorraine Doucette of Arbutus; four half-brothers, Jack Elliott of Troy, N.Y., Wallace Elliott of Port Reading, N.J., Chauncey Elliott of West Sand Lake, N.Y., and Raymond Elliott of Latham, N.Y.; and two half-sisters, Joan Yandell of Amsterdam, N.Y., and Doris Goman of Schaghticoke, N.Y.

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