Walter Cornelius Douglas

Date of Birth

December 15, 1919

Date of Death

March 14, 2014

City of Death

Santa Barbara

12/15/1919 – 03/14/2014

Born at St. Francis Hospital to Alice Steweska Douglas and Roy Cornelius Douglas; died at Cottage Hospital at age 94, surrounded by his loved ones.

He graduated from Santa Barbara High and proudly served in the US Navy in WWII, performing Armed Guard service at Iwo Jima and was part of the Philippine Liberation. He was a member of the first graduating class from Brooks Institute of Photography and pursued this passion throughout his life. He enjoyed many professions: Aircraft builder at Vultee, supervisor at Los Prietos Boys Camp, planning technician for Santa Barbara County, his own building design business in Santa Ynez, several positions with General Telephone and freelance photographer.

He loved Santa Barbara and its rich history and spent most of his life documenting people and places through his camera lens. From 1996-2002, he made a project of taking hundreds of portraits (and recorded oral history interviews) of notable citizens including descendants of prominent and pioneer Santa Barbara families. This led to a book being published in 2004 with assistance from The Westerners and coauthor, Jim Norris, “Photographs by Walter Douglas.” His entire collection is now preserved at The Presidio Research Center (Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation) where it may be accessed by generations of researchers or anyone interested in local history.

He will be dearly missed by his loving wife of 38 years, Joyce McDavid Douglas, his children, Dudley, Kim, Aaron (Darlene) and Jena, Joyce’s children, and their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his 2 brothers Robert and Frank, stepdaughter Cathy McDavid Barrett and grandchildren Jerome Coberly and Adriana Douglas.

Memorial service Tuesday April 15 1:00 PM at First Christian Church, 1915 Chapala Street with a gathering after at The Ranchero Room at Harry’s Plaza Café. Memorials to Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation or the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

More memories shared at


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