Douglas Cross, a Hempstead Village parks and recreation supervisor, sometimes bodyguard to stars, high school football standout and a community helping hand, died Feb. 10 of heart failure at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola.
Cross, 54, was the son of Betty Cross, a former Hempstead school board member and president.
“He did the chief of security thing part-time for years, and those people were always happy to see him on the job,” she said, pointing to a dozen photographs of her son with entertainers like L.L. Cool J, Mary J. Blige and Vivica Fox on the walls of her Hempstead home.
Cross was a standout, all-county linesman at Hempstead High School, according to Village Trustee Don Ryan, a longtime sports coach in the community.
“I guess I remember best his play against Roosevelt in the final play of a game tied six-six. They tried to run a play past Doug and failed. It was 1978 and that play helped boost us to the second in wins in the state.”
Cross graduated that year and then attended Denmark Technical College in South Carolina for about a year and a half before returning home, said his mother.
In 1981, he became a village sanitation worker, transferring in 1988 to parks as an assistant to the supervisor at Brierley Park. In 2000 he was named the park supervisor.
“He would become known as the mayor of Brierley Park, meaning that whole area on either side of Clinton Street,” said former Mayor James Garner. “He was a big man with an even bigger heart. He was always helping people, especially the kids. He always stressed physical training and getting in shape.”
Village Trustee Perry Pettus said, “It was nothing for him to pay somebody’s light bill or even their rent at times, and he would tell them: ‘You better not tell anybody I did this either.’ He didn’t look like the kind of guy you would want angry at you, either, although I’ve never seen him angry at anybody.”
He was a member of Faith Baptist Church in Hempstead.
Besides his mother, he is survived by a son, Douglas Tyrell Cross, and a daughter, Debbie Victoria Cross, both of Hempstead; a brother, Darryl Cross of Hempstead; and a sister, Victoria Cross of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
A candlelight vigil service is to be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Brierley Park. A viewing will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Faith Baptist Church.
A funeral service will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the church.
Burial will be at Nassau Knolls in Port Washington, leaving from the Carl C. Burnett Funeral Home in Hempstead at 9:30 a.m.