Born November 3, 1943, Douglas's earliest memories are of a military air show on V-E Day in 1946 or 1947. He attended Sigsbee School in Grand Rapids, MI, where he distinguished himself as a distance runner and a Cub Scout. His favorite hobby was a collection of Devonian and Silurian fossils. Douglas attended Ottawa Junior High in Grand Rapids for 2 years, then the prestigious Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, MI (often called "the Phillips Academy of the Midwest"). He is reticent about his expulsion from Cranbrook, but it may have had something to do with a black eye sported by the scion of a Major Corporate Family, or with an unseemly incident in a nearby college's womens' dormitory. He graduated in 1962 from the Leelanau School (often called the Cranbrook of the North Woods) a few miles from the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Glen Arbor, MI, winning honors in History, Poetry, English, and Art. At Leelanau he became an inveterate backwoods skier, and his love of woods and wilderness is reflected in his fiction.