Obituary: Douglas Ray Ables

Douglas Ray Ables

Douglas Ray Ables, known to his family members and close friends as Doug “Dog” Ables, died tragically in a single-car accident near Exeter, Calif., on Oct. 8, 2017. He was 69 years old.

He was born to loving parents Earl and Brooksie Ables in Tulare, Calif., on March 26, 1948. Doug graduated from Tulare Union High School in 1966. He was a Rainbo Bread salesman for 27 years. An avid NASCAR fan, he took great pride and pleasure in restoring his ’65 Chevy Nova SS. He was a dedicated, affectionate father and grandfather who placed a high value on quality time with his family. When a special family occasion or event took place, like a child’s play, soccer game or other family event, Doug would be there. He was funny and enjoyed family gatherings full of laughter. He was generous with his community, volunteering his time, fellowship and expertise to a karate-based ministry led by a longtime friend that provided free karate for at risk youth in their own neighborhood. Doug’s loved ones are comforted by his authenticity in life. He made sure his friends and family understood his feelings of love, respect and appreciation for them. If you were counted as a friend, he loved you and you could count on him like family because to him, you were family.

Certified as a black belt by the International Shotokan Karate-Do Kenjojuku Association, Doug was known by many as Sensei Ables. He was a man of great humility in regards to his powerful skill and highly influential involvement with martial arts. Since his loss, even those who know him well are just beginning to learn the true breadth of his exceptional legacy as practitioner and instructor of Shotokan Karate. News of his death elicited condolences from scores of longtime friends and karate practitioners from both across the nation and overseas, including honorable recognition from Mr. Tomokatsu Okano, Second Generation Chief Instructor at the Kenkojuku Shotokan Karate Do Headquarters in Hachioji City, Japan, who wrote in part: ¬¬

“While offering my condolences, I would like to express my utmost respect and gratitude to Ables Sensei for his efforts to carry on Kenkojuku Karate-do in America following the death of Kuriyama Sensei. Doug Ables Sensei will forever live on in the hearts of those who carry on in his spirit and the many who continue to practice Kenkojuku Karate-do.”

Because Sensei Ables held such exceptional dedication to his karate and leadership role, he and his contemporaries ensured that hundreds of karate students were provided the opportunity to train and become more thoughtful, steadfast people who’ve experienced the value of making a commitment to something much greater than one’s self. He influenced significantly the development of character and technical skill of hundreds of karate instructors and students through over 50 years of involvement with Shotokan Karate. Sensei Ables elicited the utmost respect and admiration of students and instructors fortunate enough to train under his guidance. He remained a highly respected senior advisor and instructor until his death.

At the end of his life, Sensei Ables had been instrumental in the foundation and enhancement of Kenkojuku Shotokan Karate-Do schools across California, from Kern County to Humboldt County. He was dearly loved and greatly appreciated by his children, grandchildren, family and karate family for the incredible and loving person he was. His legacy will live on in the hearts, minds and deeds of many.

In 2016, Doug was preceded in death by his loving wife of 31 years, Elaine Ables. Doug is survived by daughter Rhonda Bueno (Ables), Rhonda’s husband Randy Bueno and their daughters Shaye and Payton; son Arlon Ables, Arlon’s wife Wendy Ables and their three children Mya, Mavryk, and Mazy; paternally loved son Eric Schwamb and daughter Jackie Riffle (Schwamb) with her husband Mike Riffle and their three daughters Charlotte, Catherine, and Caitlin. Doug will be dearly missed by his extended karate family of the International Shotokan Karate-Do Kenjojuku Association and California Shotokan Kenkokai.

A memorial for this remarkable man will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 11 a.m. at Miller Memorial Chapel, 1120  West Goshen Ave., Visalia, California. In accordance with Doug’s wishes, there will be a Celebration of Life potluck immediately following the service at Mooney’s Grove Park, Arbor 14, 27000 South Mooney Blvd., Visalia.

In lieu of flowers, Doug has requested that  donations be made in his name to The Smile Train, a charity providing corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates, which can be found online at

Tributes and condolences may be made at

Arrangements entrusted to Miller Memorial Chapel, 1120 W. Goshen Ave., Visalia, CA 559-732-8371.

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