The Park Record features Carole in its weekly personality profile by noted local writer Steve Phillips. Check it out!
Silver Creek Grandma Busier than ever in “Retirement” Years
Wisconsin native says family and friends are most important things in life
by Steve Phillips, Record contributing writer
Article Launched: 10/12/2007 04:42:30 PM MDT
Carole Duh was never a shrinking violet. She took life by the horns as a youngster and hasn’t let go. “I just accept people and things into my life as if they’re supposed to be there,” she explains. It’s been quite a ride so far for this Indiana native, who has lived in Silver Creek since the early 1990s.
Duh (pronounced “do”) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the middle child of Mafalda and Nicholas Mates. She has an older sister, Marilyn, and a younger brother, Nicholas. Her parents were second generation from Italian and Slovenian immigrants. I occasionally heard Italian and Slovenian spoken in the house, but the only words I learned in either language can’t be repeated,” she jokes.
Carole Duh creates unique yarn and fabric art in her Silver Creek studio. Photo by Sarah Ause/Park Record
Many of her childhood memories were formed while sitting on a bar stool. “My parents owned and operated a restaurant and bar down the street from the Indy 500 track,” she recounts. “This was before the era of big sponsors. Some of the race drivers would come in and my dad would grind down their pistons while they had a shot and a beer.”
Duh says she was a “tomboy” growing up, preferring “dungarees to dresses.” She spent a lot of time in trees as a kid. “During the summers we lived in a log cabin my dad built on White Lake, about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.”
She attended the Holy Trinity Slovenian Grade School and later Saint Mary’s Academy, an all-girl school. She showed an aptitude for art in high school. After graduation, she attended the John Herron Institute of Art in Indianapolis and studied fine art and oil painting.
“Though I trained as a painter, my greatest joy was, and still is, creating art with yarn, fabric, sewing and knitting needles,” says Duh.
Duh married in her early 20s and moved to Hayward, Wisconsin in 1969, where she and her husband owned and operated a bar on the LacCourt Orellies Indian Reservation. “Surviving the Native American Indian Movement as a white person operating a bar on Indian land was a real adventure,” she says.
The marriage ended in 1976. Suddenly a struggling single mother with four small children, she took a job with the Telemark Lodge and Ski Resort near Hayward. She worked in the public relations department and was given the job title, “Director of New Ideas.” The man who hired her would become her husband a decade later.
Duh had lots of new ideas. “Our largest events were the American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race, with about 8,000 participants, and the Lumberjack World Championships, which were broadcast on national television back then.”
In 1982, Duh took a u-turn and became the “proud owner and resident problem solver” of the Cloth Cupboard, a fabric shop that specialized in quilting materials and classes. “We started a quilting guild that is still gathering 25 years later,” she says proudly. “We taught women who could barely sew how to create masterpieces.”
“We had a back room in the shop where we would all go to quilt and talk about our problems and trials and the chaos in our lives while joining hands on the community quilt. There was no husband, boyfriend or child in town brave enough to come in that room while we were quilting. It was an amazing, nurturing place.”
Duh had been dating Tom Kelly, her former boss at Telemark Lodge, for about 10 years while she was bringing up her four children. Kelly moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1986 to take a job with the United States Ski Association, now the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). The two maintained a long-distance relationship for two years.
“We were just too good a team to break up,” she says. “When we decided to get married in 1988, our wedding invitations were mini press kits with ‘bios’ on the bride and groom and an itinerary for the wedding party which included bowling and pasta dinners,” she chuckles. “Tom went from being single to a father of four with grace and wisdom,” she continues. “The children are all grown now and we have ten grandchildren. Tom and I have been complementing one another’s lives for a long time. He brings excitement and romance to me and I give him a belly-laugh or two, especially when he asks me sports questions.”
During their marriage preparations, they learned that the USSA was relocating to Park City. The newlyweds packed their bags and headed west, children in tow. In the early 1990s they purchased an existing home in Silver Creek, where they remain today.
It was quite a ride through the 1990s and early 2000s, culminating in the Olympics in 2002,” says Duh, who has held a wide variety of jobs around town. “I had the honor of working for Stein and Francoise Eriksen at Bjorn Stova and Le Cadeau,” she says. “I met some rather well-known people, but often had to have someone tell me who they were.”
From 1997 through 2002, she managed Rocky Mountain Baskets and Gifts in town. She “retired” in 2002, but still works there part-time. For the last five years she’s also worked part-time organizing conferences and book promotion tours with a co-worker she met during the Olympics. She recently took on a third part-time job with Wellness International Network, a nutritional supplement business. “I think they wanted me because I could be the poster child for high energy,” says Duh. “I’ve got all these jobs just because I have all this energy and want to stay busy.”
Duh’s favorite job, however, is managing her own fabric art business, “Do Dads for You.” She’s come full-circle, returning to the art that brought her such joy back in high school. “I hadn’t picked up knitting needles for over 35 year until 2003,” she says. “It’s all hands on now. I knit and get to create one-of-a-kind wonders.”
Visitors to her website, www.dodadforyou.com , are treated to a gallery of playful and colorful fabric and yarn art, as well as needle felting. She sells her unique pieces online, at Rocky Mountain Basket and Buga Buga,” a local children’s store.
Duh has no complaints about living in the Park City area. “Sorry, no pet peeves come to mind,” she quips, then hesitates. “Well, maybe the lack of knowledge that all cars come with turn signals, but that’s a statewide problem,” she confesses.
She’s passionate about family and friends. “When I wake up in the morning, I think about the 100 or so things I get to choose to do that day. Of course, knitting and sewing, gardening and basket-making will be part of it, but so will talking to one or more of the children and likely having coffee with someone close.
Philosophical about life in her mid-60s, Duh offers this insightful advice: “When someone you love is on the rollercoaster of life, just be a ticket taker and help them on and off. Don’t get on yourself, you’ll be no help to anyone.”
Favorite thing to do: travel, four-wheeling , rock-hounding, mountain biking.
Favorite foods: pasta dishes “I’ll eat about anything except olives and avocados.”
Favorite music/performers: bluegrass, folk and classical / James Blunt, Rod Stewart, Norah Jones.
Favorite reading/authors: biographies and histories of people and places “no mushy stuff.”
Pets: “two dogs and a cat. We have a treat jar for them and water bowls with their names. They’re the best pets because they all belong to the neighbors.”