COOPERSTOWN – Douglas M. Sternberg, 64, of Oceanside, Long Island, died Oct. 11, 2020, at home after a very long illness, with his wife Michelle by his side.
He was born on July 17, 1956, the son of Nadine and Donald Sternberg, formerly of Cooperstown, and brother of Richard Sternberg of Cooperstown. Besides Michell, he leaves three children, Daniel Sternberg of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Miriam Sternberg of Denver, and Jessica Crawford of Stamford, Conn.
Doug loved Cooperstown. Before his illness he visited often. It was at his urging that his brother looked at Bassett Hospital to practice surgery and moved here in 2009.
Doug was a dentist and at the time of the onset of his illness was practicing in a public health center in Upstate New York, taking care of the indigent and medically underserved. Prior to that, he had worked for 25 years for the City of New York at various clinics around the city.
Doug wanted to be remembered for a few things.
He loved driving and would drive any distance to help someone. He drove all over the country to take his children to and from their colleges, University of Southern California, Indiana University, and the University of Miami, Fla. He would think nothing of driving, dropping them off and immediately returning to New York.
He was very precise about schedules. If he told a child that he would pick them up in 7 minutes, it was 7 minutes exactly, not 6, not 8. He was also a creature of routine and habit. As far as his children remember, every Thursday was Peanut Butter Thursday. On Father’s Day he always wore his “Dad’s Rules” T-shirt. At his annual Fourth of July barbeque he always wore his Dashiki, a gift from a patient who he was very proud of. He was precise about his schedule until the end. FaceTiming was on Sunday. If a child called on a different day, he “suggested” that they should also call on Sunday because that was his usual call day.
He had an impressive collection of ball caps (worn to Protect his bald spot from sunburn), and it was a big deal which one he chose to wear. Usually he chose based on which college team was playing, or which of his kids were around. If there were no college games, he would choose his cap based on which one coordinated the best with his outfit.
He took up running in his 40s, ostensibly so he wouldn’t get winded running for the subway, but it was mostly to be able to share something with his daughter. They ran two half marathons together, and it was impressive the dedication and effort that he put into his training. He missed being able to run after he got sick. He has strongly suggested to her multiple times that she should run another marathon so that she could push him in his wheelchair for 26 miles
One of Doug’s greatest joys in life was food – there was never a French fry left uneaten. Many of his family conversations were centered around food – what they had eaten, what they were planning on eating, what he wanted to eat. He used to say that he had no real vices, so he deserved to have dessert. His favorite dessert was cheesecake, and he liked to try lots of different ones. After eating the whole piece, he would have this sly smile on his face and declare the cakes NGAM – not as good as Michelle’s. Said both because it was true and because he wanted to get a solid eye roll reaction at this bad joke from his children.
Family was everything to Doug. All he ever wanted was for his family to be happy. He would always push his children to do their best. Dad took nothing for himself so that his kids could have the best experiences. Even though he never quite understood their professions, he was insanely proud of them. Mostly he just wanted them to be happy. He considered his children’s friends his kids as well. If any of them ever needed anything, he was there, and he was always interested in how everyone was doing and that they should be happy.
Doug was kind and well meaning. He wanted to learn and grow, to better himself and improve his relationships. Doug, we love you, we miss you, and we will think of you fondly always.