Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Duis volunteered with ANB, Hospice


Bob Duis

Community volunteer Bob Duis, 70, died Jan 31 of heart failure at the health clinic.

Duis retired to Haines from Somerset, Wis., 11 years ago. He and wife Carol became active in local non-profits, including Hospice of Haines, Friends of Recycling, Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood.

Duis cooked for ANS events and served as an officer in ANB Camp 5. He was part of an ANB and Sealaska team that fought to maintain Native access to the Chilkoot River.

"Bob's efforts were instrumental in the ruling. He was definitely a serious political person and an advocate for Native subsistence rights," said ANB officer Lee Heinmiller. "When it came to the Chilkoot Corridor and 19 Mile, he could be a real thorn in the side of the agencies."

Duis discovered Haines after his mother brought the family here on a cruise in 2000. His cooking caught the attention of Alaska Native Sisterhood members, who asked him to be the chef for a traditional memorial. He cooked for the group's salmon bake fundraisers. Longtime ANS member Marilyn Wilson said Duis would be greatly missed. "He did so much, I can't even list it all."

Native artist Wayne Price said he joined the ANB because of Duis, who supported Price's North Tide Canoe Kwaan efforts. "Bob gave whatever was needed. Money. His truck. Without his support I wouldn't be where I am at," Price said. "He was the kindest man I've ever known."

Beth MacCready, Hospice of Haines administrator, noted that Duis and his wife "were a great team." Carol cared for Hospice clients, and "Bob was my go-to guy in a pinch," she said. He could be counted on to move a hospital bed or set up a rummage sale tent.

John Robert Duis was born Nov. 8, 1946 in Gothenberg, Neb. to Herbert Duis and Jane Trusdale Duis. His father owned an insurance and real estate agency and served in the Nebraska legislature.

As a young man, Duis hunted, trapped, and fished. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he met Carol Potter just before his freshman year. They eloped four years later and were married in La Grange, Ill. on Dec. 13, 1969. "My parents promised me $500 and a ladder if I didn't have a wedding, and they came through," Carol said.

They lived in Chicago, where Duis worked for a railroad before moving to Somerset during a job transfer. The Duises kept an 80-acre hobby farm that included cattle. Duis competed in trap-shooting and muzzle-loading contests. In 1996, he retired early and joined an insurance company as a disaster recovery specialist.

Duis learned to cook early in life as a volunteer for the Sisters of the Poor in Chicago. In Wisconsin, he served as chef for events, camps, and fundraisers at a YMCA camp. "Bob loved people, and he showed it through cooking, the more people the better," Carol said.

In Haines, Duis also served on the borough's Public Safety Commission, and enjoyed and recreating in "anything with a motor," said daughter Jennifer Duis. Susan Duis Haigh said their father loved "God-awful" puns and a glass of good Scotch.

Duis leaves wife Carol of Haines; daughters Susan Duis Haigh and husband Brendan of Tacoma, Wash., and Dr. Jennifer Duis of Flagstaff, Ariz., as well as sister Betsy Glenn and husband Tim.

Duis was adopted into Native culture. His wife said he gained a second family after being adopted by Tlingit siblings Barbara Lewis and Georgianna Hotch.

There will be a memorial service in the spring.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Duis Memorial Fund at the Haines bank.


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