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Noted DuPage County surgeon and conservationist Douglas Mains dead at 79

Douglas Mains, a groundbreaking orthopedic surgeon and noted conservationist, was remembered this week after he died Dec. 9 of dementia. He was 79.

Mains was one of DuPage County's leading environmentalists, helping spearhead the growth of Danada Forest Preserve and the preservation of St. James Farm in Winfield as a concerned citizen and the head of The Conservation Foundation.

Current foundation President and CEO Brook McDonald remembered his friend and mentor as a charismatic leader who brought the professional yet personal bedside manner of a country doctor to every conversation.

"He was able to strike an immediate connection with people. He had a relationship with people that was built on trust," McDonald said. "He's the one that's established this culture at the Conservation Foundation – consistent, quiet work behind the scenes to get things done."

Mains' friendship with foundation founder Brooks McCormick lead to his selection as successor and allowed the doctor to secure the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's purchase of McCormick's farm – now St. James Farm.

"I have been president of the forest preserve for over 20 years and no one has been more helpful or influential in helping maintain the assets of the forest preserve of DuPage County," said preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr.

Though Pierotti is a Republican and Mains ran as a Democrat in a 1996 race for U.S. representative, he said they bonded over their shared love and respect for the environment.

Mains donated his home in unincorporated West Chicago to the forest preserve after his retirement to be used as a learning center, Pierotti said.

Before he became a force in the DuPage County preservation community, Mains was an innovative surgeon at Central DuPage Hospital. Most notably, he was the first surgeon to perform a total hip joint replacement in the county and was at the forefront of new techniques for the practice.

"He was an unbelievably technically good surgeon," said Mains' former colleague, Dr. David Chang. "I would describe him as the gentlest surgeon I've ever met, the kindest and gentlest."

Another former coworker, nurse Maureen Boyle, said he valued his patients and nurses and was "beloved" by both.

Even in his practice, she said, his passion for conservation showed.

"When I first started working there 26 years ago, there were no styrofoam cups in the office," she said. "He was already way ahead of his time in conserving and living the green life. He walked the talk and he lived it."

Mains is survived by his wife, Fran, two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A visitation is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Hultgren Funeral Home, 304 N. Main St., Wheaton. The memorial service will follow at 11.

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