In work, Franklyn Wallace "Wally" Douthwaite acted as city manager of Des Plaines, Wheeling and Wood Dale, among other places.
In retirement, he played bridge, fished and watched a lot of baseball, rooting loudest for his Cincinnati Reds.
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In Summerville, South Carolina, on Monday, he collapsed and never regained consciousness, his wife of 38 years, Nancy, said on Wednesday.
Medical examiners believe he had a massive heart attack or a brain aneurysm, Nancy said.
"It was such a shock," she said. "We were very happy here, and we loved it here."
The couple met while at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His first city manager job took them to Greenacres, Florida, and later Gresham, Oregon, and Moline, Illinois, before he was hired in Des Plaines in 1993.
He left in January 2001 for Springboro, Ohio, before being hired in Wheeling in 2002. He was asked to resign in 2006. He started in Wood Dale in 2008 and was dismissed in 2010.
"It was a good career. He got to meet a lot of interesting people," Nancy said. "It was really rewarding for him. He really enjoyed his job."
After he left Wood Dale, he retired, and the couple moved to the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, to a retirement community.
"We've met a lot of people throughout his city manager career, a lot of fine people, and we still keep in touch with a lot of them," Nancy said.
People may pay their respects at a visitation set for 3 p.m. June 7 at the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, followed by a funeral service at 4 p.m.
Douthwaite is survived by Nancy, and two daughters Laurel, 28, and Christine, 24, both of Nashville, Tennessee.