This month, Doug Wyatt would have turned 55. And he and Gail Krueger got married in September, too.
That’s one of the reasons Krueger has aligned herself with the Savannah Folk Music Society’s monthly First Friday concert (Sept. 4 at First Presbyterian Church). She’ll be there, along with representatives from the National Brain Tumor Society, a non-profit organization funding innovative research and providing comprehensive, supportive care and services to all affected by brain tumors.
Before and after Friday’s concert, which features the performers Garrison Doles and Southern Tied, you can receive information about glioblastoma multiforme, the cancer that killed Doug Wyatt – and Ted Kennedy, too, as a matter of fact - and make donations to the cause. A number of local businesses have donated goods and services to be raffled.
“A lot of other forms of cancer get a whole lot more publicity than this one does,” Krueger says. “Certainly deserved and needed publicity.
“But there’s a little something in me saying ‘Nobody’s paying attention to this.’ Of course, you’re always paying attention to the things that impact you most directly. I figured it was the least I could do to try to draw a little attention to it.”
Research is being conducted on glioblastoma multiforme, she adds. “But clinical trials are hard because of the rate of fatalities.” Under the best of circumstances, a patient receiving this diagnosis will live for three months.
Ironically, Wyatt died just two months after the Savannah Morning News, where’d he worked for the better part of 14 years, laid him off.
He’d been one of the paper’s most consistent – and popular – editors and writers, with a finely-honed sense of humor and a hard-won honesty that shone through in every word he put down.
The newspaper business, however, is in something of a free-fall, and he was one of several employees pink-slipped by the Morning News in November of 2008.
He’d met Krueger, an environmental reporter, in the ‘90s while they were both on the newspaper’s staff.
In December, Wyatt wrote about his situation in these very pages:
Now — suddenly, terribly — I’m at loose ends. After losing my job, I felt an emptiness in my stomach and a horrible feeling of hopelessness.
How am I going to provide for my family? I haven’t a clue. Where’s the cash coming from to buy next week’s groceries?
I simply don’t know.
God I hate this.
Once, hearing the latest nightly news, the sorrowful tidings would roll off of me. Unemployed rates are up 2 percent? Too bad, but I really didn’t care.
Now TV’s like a knife. When Brian Williams describes the day’s economic gloom from his warm New York studio, I can’t stand the little bastard. The guy’s hairdresser, I know, will make more next year than I earn over the next decade.
Three weeks after her husband’s death, Krueger returned to her job handling communications and PR for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. It was, she knows, a little too early to go back – but what else was she going to do?
Even now, she says, “Some days I wonder how come I’m still vertical.”
She hopes to make this Friday’s event an annual affair, always in September, to commemorate the anniversaries that meant so much to her, and to Doug.
“There was no way, emotionally, I could do it quickly after Doug died,” Krueger says. “I just couldn’t. I’m managing to find a little bit of strength to do it now.”
First Friday for Folk Music
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 520 E. Washington Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
Suggested donation: $2
Performers: Garrison Doles, Southern Tied
To make an online donation in memory of Doug Wyatt: