Remembering Doug Maples, Bookshare Volunteer Extraordinaire

By Amanda Landavazo, posted on

It is with much sadness and gratitude that we honor long-time Bookshare volunteer, Doug Maples, after his passing in February at his home in Amory, Mississippi.

Valerie Maples stands behind Doug Maples and daughter Nichole who are in wheelchairs. Valerie hugs Doug in another photo with the text: The Bookshare team thanks Doug Maples and his family for their dedication and immense contribution to Bookshare.

Doug and his wife, Valerie, have been Bookshare volunteers for over ten years and are responsible for over 2,000 books scanned or proofread in the Bookshare library. Doug and Valerie starting scanning books on their own in 2003 because their daughter, Cindy, needed access to better scans. Cindy joined Bookshare in 2004 and her sister, Nichole, followed her with an account in 2006. The Maples discovered Bookshare’s Volunteer program in 2009 and have been scanning and proofreading for us ever since, with a large focus on adding children’s books to the library.

Scanning and Proofreading Books is a Family Affair

Doug especially enjoyed teaming up with his family when selecting books to proofread. When Nichole wanted to participate in a Bookshare summer reading challenge, Doug helped to proofread the books that she wanted—Nichole ended up winning the challenge by reading over 180 books! He and Valerie also loved working as a volunteer team. Doug proofread Valerie’s scans and they both worked on other proofreading. He also often collaborated with other scanners to “pre-proof” rougher scans before Valerie would tackle them. While Doug had proofread “a bit of everything” at this point, because of the need, he enjoyed working on children’s books, especially those intended for boys.

“Doug was such an ambassador and role model, and he had the patience of Job. Because of him, our girls felt like they had something to offer the bigger world outside of their disabilities.” -Valerie Maples

Outside of his work with Bookshare, Doug was a loving and devoted husband and father, writer, and role model. Due to a high school football accident in 1972, Doug lived 47 years as a quadriplegic, and, at first, didn’t know if his life would include a family or rewarding work and hobbies. However, Doug was incredibly independent and became an “ambassador for what tech can do for someone,” earning three degrees from Mississippi State and enjoying a fulfilling professional life.

A Man of Many Talents and Accomplishments

He was always finding new hobbies: writing, volunteering, and teaching other people how to use technology without the use of their hands. With Valerie’s encouragement, Doug was excited about learning to drive with switches and a joystick and he became hooked after his first test driving session. When the Maples moved back to Doug’s home state of Mississippi in 1997, Doug was still driving and insisted on making the trips to church, doing the family grocery shopping, attending games at his beloved Mississippi State, and driving as far as Memphis for van modification repairs. Because he drove, at least a dozen other people in Nebraska and Mississippi living with quadriplegia credit Doug as the reason they realized they could learn to drive as well.

A man of faith, Doug was deeply involved in his church and community. After the Maples moved back to Doug’s hometown of Amory in 2018, he insisted that their bedroom be moved into the living room so that he could host Bible studies and entertain friends as they stopped by. Doug would make sure that the study books chosen were available in Bookshare and he could be found sharing passages from the books on his TV during discussions.

Author, Ambassador, and Role Model

Proofreading was not enough for Doug—he also wrote his own adapted children’s books, full-length fiction novel, as well as a two-part autobiography. We are happy to announce that once Doug’s books are published, we will be honored to have them added to the Bookshare library.

According to Valerie, “Doug was such an ambassador and role model, and he had the patience of Job. Because of him, our girls felt like they had something to offer the bigger world outside of their disabilities.” Doug’s passing has been felt by the entire volunteer community and we will miss his significant contribution, unending patience, and selfless spirit.

We hope you will get involved and help Bookshare do more by becoming a volunteer or donating.