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Albert George Doumar

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Albert George Doumar

Norfolk - Albert George Doumar, 92, died in Norfolk, Virginia on May 14, 2014.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Betty Grace "Gracie" Turner Doumar; his three children, George Rubert Albert "Grady" Doumar of Falls Church, Virginia, Thomas Henry Albert "Thad" Doumar of Norfolk, and Katheryn Grace Doumar Windley of Chesapeake; a brother, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar of Norfolk; and seven grandchildren: Lia, Celine, Albert, Hunter, Karim, Luke, and Andrew. He was preceded in death by another brother, his long-time business partner, Victor.

Born in Norfolk, VA on March 10, 1922, Albert began work in the early 1930's delivering ice cream cones downtown for the family cone business. Albert was proud of his Uncle Abe's invention of the ice cream cone, and advocated the family's claim among historians, on television, and in writing. He graduated from Maury High School in 1940, graduated with a B.A. from William and Mary in 1943, then graduated from Officer Candidate School at Columbia University and was commissioned a U.S. Navy Officer in 1943. Albert served as an officer on several Navy ships, including as a lieutenant j.g. on the U.S.S. Elizabeth Stanton in the Mediterranean, and participated in the invasion of Europe. Later, Albert was the first lieutenant on a hospital ship in the Far East, serving in both the Philippines and China before his honorable discharge in 1946 from the greatest navy in history.

Upon his discharge, Albert bypassed opportunities to move elsewhere and returned to Norfolk to manage Doumar's Drive-In with his brother Victor, where he worked for the next 68 years, through March of this year. Though he began handing off many duties in the late 1980's to his son Thad, who was later joined by his son-in-law Randy Windley, Albert remained at the drive-in working full-time, without vacation, until shortly before his death. Albert was the catalyst for continued improvements at the restaurant and promotion of the business over the years. During the last several years, "Big Al," with his signature bow tie, suspenders, and cap, continued to hand make ice cream cones on the world's first cone machine, work the bread machine in the kitchen, and greet customers.

Albert never said a bad word about anyone, and was the ultimate soft touch to any person who asked for help. He liked to serve ice cream cones to children of all ages and treated every person the same regardless of status.

Albert traveled around the country as part of the City of Norfolk's marketing efforts. Albert often quipped that his Uncle (Sam) had paid for an around-the-world trip for him after college, and that he had spent the rest of his life repaying him. Despite -- or maybe due to -- his travels, Albert's favorite place remained Norfolk. During his life, he moved from Granby Street, to 26th Street, to Riverview, and later to Elizabeth Park. When businesses left downtown for the suburbs in the 1960's and 1970's, he would tell people that he needed to keep the drive-in going for his customers, employees and for the city. Albert's persistence in keeping Doumar's at 1919 Monticello Avenue set an example that helped the Ghent neighborhood revitalize, and Albert saw his business prosper well after most people reach retirement age.

Albert was recognized in the Norfolk community wherever he went, whether at mom-and-pop shops, high- end stores, gas stations, country clubs or diners and restaurants.

He was a former President of the Sons and Daughters of Lebanon, a former President of the Norfolk Restaurant Association, a member of the Elks, a former President of the Elizabeth Park Garden Club, and was a lifelong booster of downtown.

He won the prestigious James Beard Award, which honors the finest restaurants and food professionals in the United States annually. In recent years, national television shows such as Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, the Travel Channel, and the locally produced PBS series 'What Matters' showcased his talents and contributions to the local community.

The family wishes to thank the caregivers who assisted Albert in the last few years and wants them to know how essential and appreciated they are.

Albert was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at St. Matthews Catholic Church 3316 Sandra Lane, Virginia Beach Monday May 19, at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. There will be a visitation at the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments 1501 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk, Sunday from 3 until 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggest contributions be made to a .
Published in The Virginian Pilot on May 16, 2014
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