Longtime Salvation Army holiday dinner leader passes carving knives after 42 years

Salvation Army volunteer Charlie Doan, center, cuts hams for the organizationís annual Christmas dinner in December 2004. (H-W File Photo)
Posted: Nov. 20, 2012 5:21 pm Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 1:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

For more than 40 years, people in need of a meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas have turned to the Salvation Army in Quincy.

Behind the scenes, every detail was under the watchful eye of a man known for his support of the community.

This year, however, the familiar head cook will not be preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Longtime Salvation Army volunteer Charlie Doan is passing the carving knives to others.

"It was a good run," Doan, 87, said. "We provided great food

and had a great team to make it work."

Doan, who has cooked holiday dinners for 42 years, said he has carpal tunnel syndrome and will be undergoing surgery later this month to treat the condition.

"My work with the Army is not finished yet, and I'll do whatever it takes to make the Army successful in our community and take

care of the people in need," Doan said.

He said the Salvation Army has a great crew, so he knows that the meal is in good hands.

"I have 13 years to decide when I'm going to retire," he joked.

Doan's support of the organization is well-known. He was presented with the Salvation Army's Central Territory Lifetime Volunteer Award in 2011, given to those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz, a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, said Doan paid attention to every detail to make sure meals went off without a hitch.

"He has a system that went all the way from buying the ingredients to the way they set up the serving line," he said. "Of course, it's a little different now that we have the Kroc Center."

Scholz said Doan had to change strategies in recent years as the Salvation Army's holiday meals went from its old building to the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center to the Kroc Center.

"When we had the old building at Fifth and Broadway, we didn't have a really big kitchen," Scholz said. "He was particular about anyone coming into kitchen. He had his own crew.

"Like a pool hustler has his own cue in a case, Charlie would bring a case with him and it was all his knives."

According to Patty Douglas, director of development for the Salvation Army, 739 people were served at the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners last year.

"We'll definitely miss him," she said. "He just took charge and handled the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals."

Doan said the community support for the meal has been tremendous.

"People caught on to it really quick," he said. "Then after we were going three or four years, people started donating some things to us. That helped, and to this day, people still donate to us.

"I remember there was a couple from Ursa who used to donate at Christmas time 300 to 400 hams."

There has been an increase in the need for a good meal during the holidays, especially during the last couple of years.

"When we started out, if we had 100 people, it was an awful lot, and that would be family and kids and everyone that showed up," Doan said. "Then we usually send to the people that couldn't come in a dozen or so meals. Now, we can have close to 100 meals delivered to the homes and we can sometimes feed 500 people."

Doan hasn't just prepared the holiday meals at the Salvation Army. While thousands were filling sandbags during the floods of 1993, he was cooking for them.

"Nobody enjoys like cooking for 500 people more than Charlie Doan, or is better at it," Scholz said. "It comes from his heart."