Head and shoulders photo of Tom, with black golf shirt and cap on left, and Brent in light blue and white plaid shirt on right.

Tom Dougela, left and Brent Danneman

Brent Danneman remembers the first time he and Tom Dougela took a boat out on Lake Lanier as brand-new boat salesmen.

“We were both in boat sales at Browns Bridge Marine at Holiday Marina, and we took out a 40-foot Bayliner to test drive it,” said Danneman. “We got out on the lake and then realized not only did we not know starboard from port, we also had no idea how to bring the boat back to the dock. We finally got another boater to take a line from us to be towed back to the dock.”

Needless to say, times changed over the years as the two friends spent the past 30 years in the boat business on the lake.

From those early days in the 1990s, Danneman and Dougela forged a relationship that went way beyond working together.

“Tom was one of my best friends all these years,” said Danneman. “We followed each other from Browns Bridge Marine at Holiday before settling at Park Marine. Tom was one of the best salesmen and boat brokers I’ve ever known. He will be missed.”

Dougela passed away on September 17 at his home in Buford of an apparent heart attack. He and Danneman were set to have lunch the next day, something they did regularly after Dougela retired from Park Marine.

“It’s hard to believe he’s gone,” Danneman said. “Over the years we had so much in common, it was just a natural friendship, starting as a business relationship but maturing over the years.”

The two bonded over military service back in the 1960s and 1970s. Both served in the US Army but didn’t meet until the early 1990s.

Both served domestically, with Dougela a drill soloist in the US Army Drill Team. He demonstrated his skills on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Dougela was part of the President’s Honor Guard for both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also served a detail at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“His dedication to country, family and his friends was beyond amazing,” Danneman said. “He knew so many people around the lake. He was greatly respected.

Dougela retired from Park Marine as a senior member of the sales staff several years ago, in his early 80s.

He is survived by his wife Terry, three daughters, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was interred at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton.