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Doug Oakland dies; owner of popular Hampton Bays restaurant and marina was 52

Doug Oakland is seen in this undated photo.

Doug Oakland is seen in this undated photo.

Doug Oakland, who helped grow the Hampton Bays marina that bore his family name into a favored destination for boaters and diners, died July 1 at his family's home in the hamlet. He was 52.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Stephanie Oakland.

Doug Oakland began working at Oakland's Restaurant and Marina in the mid-1990s, turning the family-operated, summers-only operation on Dune Road overlooking Shinnecock Bay into a larger business with a longer season.

He expanded the restaurant and in 2011 the family purchased the restaurant next door, Sundays on the Bay, doubling the size of the marina to about 100 slips.

Expansion meant "a lot of debt to take on," Stephanie Oakland said. Her husband was not blind to the risk, but "he had a vision."

She recalled an energetic, gregarious man who played the role of host for more than 20 years, greeting customers by name. Few of them knew that he worked 60- to 80-hour weeks during the summer, a schedule that slowed only slightly in the winter, when he caught up on maintenance.

"He was the one banging the nails," she said.

Oakland was born June 26, 1963, in Freeport. He was raised in Kings Park and graduated from Kings Park High School. He worked at another family business, United Fence and Guard Rail, in Ronkonkoma, before moving to the Hampton Bays restaurant started by his parents, Wally and Joyce.

He and his wife, the former Stephanie Mears, had four children, Doug, 24, Briana, 22, Christian, 16, and Caroline, 14. All of them attended Hampton Bays schools, and he served on the school board there from 2007 to 2013 and was president for six of those years.

"He was a big guy in every way: big ideas, big expectations, big vision for what our community should look like," Superintendent Lars Clemensen said.

Under Oakland, the district revitalized aging facilities and infrastructure and increased the number of classes, sports, and clubs it offered, Clemensen said. Thanks in part to Oakland's leadership, the number of Advanced Placement tests taken by Hampton Bays students rose sharply, he said, and in 2011 the district created a lacrosse program.

Clemensen's strongest memory of Oakland wasn't from a school board meeting, though. It was after superstorm Sandy, when sand and dirt from the barrier beach made Oakland's business virtually inaccessible.

"School was closed for a week; the town had shut down," Clemensen said. "And there was Doug out on Dune Road, out on a payloader," clearing the road. "That was how he led; he rolled up his sleeves."

Besides his wife and children, Oakland is survived by his mother, of Hampton Bays; a brother, Gary, of Holbrook; and a sister, Christine Hill, of Manorville.

A funeral was held Tuesday at Westhampton Presbyterian Church, followed by burial at Southampton Cemetery.

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