June 16, 1946 – February 6, 2024

Carol Duis family photo

Carol Susan (Potter) Duis, 77, died Feb. 6, 2024, surrounded by family at her home in Tacoma, Wash.  Born June 16, 1946 to Myrom “Hap” Potter and Catherine “Kay” (Trenchard) Potter and raised in Cambridge, Neb., Carol attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was a Regent Scholar, and spent over 30 years teaching in Chicago, Ill. and Oakdale, Minn. She and husband John Robert “Bob” Duis lived on an 80-acre hobby farm in Somerset, Wisc., where they raised daughters Jennifer and Susan. After retiring, they moved to Haines in 2006.

Carol was preceded in death by her parents, and husband Bob. She is survived by daughters Dr. Jennifer Duis of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Susan Duis Haigh (Brendan) and granddaughter Elizabeth of Tacoma, Wash., as well as sisters Mary Schwaner (Bill) and Catherine Bartoli, sister-in-law Betsy (Tim) Glenn, and extended family in the Midwest. Carol gained a second family in Haines after being adopted by her Tlingit siblings, Sue Clayton and her sisters, in 2008.  

A gathering will be held in Alaska in 2025, and family members plan to gather in the Midwest later in the year. In honor of Carol’s dedication to the community, please consider donating or volunteering to a local cause in lieu of flowers or memorial gifts.

Early Years 
Carol grew up in a musical family, playing violin and flute. The whole family helped with the Trenchard farm. In 1964 Carol graduated as valedictorian  of her Cambridge High School class. As a freshman pledge at Alpha Chi Omega sorority, Carol met her future husband, Bob Duis of Gothenburg, Neb. Following Carol’s first year of teaching English literature at Omaha Westside High School and two years in a Chicago suburb, Carol and Bob eloped and were married on Dec. 13,1969. “My parents promised me 500 dollars and a ladder if I didn’t have a wedding, and they came through,” Carol said.

Wisconsin years
Bob and Carol spent a couple of years in Chicago, then settled in Somerset, Wisc. on an 80-acre hobby farm. Carol taught English and French at Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minn. At home, she rode horses, worked on the farm, and joined Bob in trap shooting and muzzle loading competitions. She finished her masters degree at the University of Minnesota in 1988. In the 1990s, she organized study abroad trips to France, taking Jennifer and Susan along several times. The girls played club hockey, and Carol herself learned to skate and joined a team in her 50s. The family welcomed a Norwegian exchange student for a year, and Linda is considered part of the family, too. Carol retired in 2002 but had plenty of adventures ahead of her.

In her spare time, Carol loved reading, music, and garage sales. Her daughters fondly remember summer trips to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin; while dad went fishing, mom and the girls drove across the north woods in search of garage sale signs, or explored the campground while Carol devoured a book. 

Alaska & Washington
Carol and Bob relocated to Haines, Alaska in 2006 after a short visit in 2000 during cruise. The small town was a good fit for two Nebraska kids, and they enjoyed the close-knit community and natural splendor. At the end of their six-week vacation, Bob declared he wasn’t going back home; Carol packed up the Wisconsin house by herself and returned with their two cats solo – just one example of her fortitude and ability to get things done. Carol helped with archaeological studies and produced a report on the “Wild Women” of the Salton Rode. And on her frequent trips on the Alaska Marine Highway System, she always had a stack of books to share with the ferry ‘library’ for others to enjoy – another generous task she took to heart. When Carol was adopted as an Eagle Kaagwaantaan (Wolf), following Bob’s adoption into the Raven Woodworm family, she was given the fitting Tlingit name Kookdeeshee Shawaat, or “Woman Who Serves Others.”

Carol was an active volunteer and donor to many causes, whether local, national or global. In Wisconsin, she supported Grace Place, New Richmond Five Loaves Food Pantry, the Heritage Center Barn and Flea Market, and the Willow River Players Community Theater. In Haines, both Carol and Bob were active supporters of Hospice of Haines, Friends of Recycling, Haines Borough Public Library, and the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Brotherhood. Bob cooked for events and became an officer in ANB Camp 5; Carol organized fundraiser garage sales, and was treasurer and secretary for ANS Camp 5, and eventually became Grand Camp Secretary, a post she held for 10 years. 

After Bob’s death in 2017, Carol continued her active life in Haines, taking long trips south to visit family and friends, and began to split her time between Tacoma and Haines when she became a proud grandmother in 2020. After being diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in Jan. 2022, she and her cat, Kook, permanently moved to Tacoma just across the street from daughter Susan, son-in-law Brendan, and granddaughter Elizabeth. Jennifer visited frequently during her summer and winter breaks. Carol had dinner with her family nearly every night, and bestowed frequent gifts of support, books, music and chocolate to her loved ones near and far. Both daughters helped Carol through her cancer journey, including numerous trips to Seattle. Even then, Carol didn’t stop moving – she visited Haines and the Midwest, and in the summer of 2023, took Jennifer, Susan and family friend Jean Gfall on an amazing trip to Europe, including London and a Danube River cruise. 

Carol will be remembered by friends and family around the world for her strength and quiet humor; insatiable love of reading, music, and chocolate; and her countless good works.