Doak Michael Britzmann gave his all to enjoy the gifts that life had to offer him. As a young man preparing for his life, Doak accepted the reality of his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis Even as the reality of his limitations became clear, Doak marveled at the presence of love which was bestowed upon him by family and friends. With his death, a great presence is gone and the person who touched each of us through his incredible grit and subtle humor is etched in our hearts and minds.
Doak was born to John “Burt” and Joan Britzmann on December 29, 1956 in Iowa City, Iowa. A quarterback at the University of Iowa in the 1950s Burt named Doak after 1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. He wore this iconic, signature name like a badge of honor and was determined to prove himself—which he did often in early childhood and on his own pugilistic terms creating some inspiring and legendary stories in his circle of friends. He gained the respect of his peers with the support of his three brothers—a true bond of strength through physical and spiritual toughness.
Doak was raised in Moscow along with his three brothers and two sisters. As a large family, there was always a companion to play with at our home on Moore Street. Swim team and the Lake Coeur d’ Alene cabin filled the summers with fun with friends. Doak specialized in back stroke and loved waterskiing and tubing at the lake. Winter would bring snow skiing to every weekend; this sometimes required attending Sunday school in ski pants before zipping up to Moscow Mountain. The outdoors was a family playground with his father sharing his love of hunting and fishing with his boys.
In high school Doak lettered in football and wrestling, graduating in 1975 from Moscow High School with academic honors. He subsequently attended the University of Idaho and graduated with a bachelors in science in Zoology in 1979. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in his senior year and so his direction changed with circumstances. Foregoing medical school, he turned to managing and working on his family farm in eastern Washington. Doak discovered a new-found love in the daily labor of farming which he enjoyed until his physical health failed. During this phase of his life, he had the privilege of raising his two stepchildren children, Katie and John, through their childhood and this brought him joy beyond words, which impacted Doak’s world forever.
His deteriorating condition eventually took Doak to Aspen Park in Moscow, which became his home for the last 10 years of his life. There he was supported by a caring staff, his loving family and his many friends–especially Kirk and Marilyn, whose frequent visits were appreciated beyond measure. As his condition worsened in recent years, his willpower to set aside the pain brought him periods of relief during which he could enjoy the simple pleasure of a good practical joke, continue his pursuit of the ideal pizza and savor the kiss from his loving mother. After many near-death episodes, Doak departed suddenly from this world on the morning of April 24, 2016. He was a strong, quiet, determined and humorous individual. Those fortunate enough to have been in his life witnessed his amazing resolve to live each day with a dignified acceptance of his condition; in short, Doak made the most of his life in spite of his circumstances.
Devotion to his family gave Doak the strength that sustained him through difficult times. He is survived by his mother, Joan, and his sisters, Dianne (John) and Margo (Curt) and brothers, Brad, Mitch (Jean) and Dan (Katy). He is preceded in death by his father, Burt. He will forever be missed by Katie and John Cook, “his kids”. He enjoyed watching his 8 nieces and nephews grow from infancy to young adults. Doak found it difficult to express appreciation for his enormous and loving group of friends, so it’s important that they know they filled his heart with happiness.
Doak’s Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, June 17 from 5 to 9pm at Schierman’s Clubhouse and Event Center. In lieu of flowers, and because Doak loved dogs and the pursuit of science, donations on his behalf to the Moscow Humane Society, or research for the cure of multiple sclerosis through the National MS Society (NMSS) would be appreciated.