A lifetime of doing everything to perfection

Friday, September 26, 2014

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

During his sophomore year of high school, Doug Duke won his first arts and crafts show with his gunstock carvings. Throughout his high school career, he maintained a high average. Duke was well known for his artistic abilities. While in the 11th grade, Duke was asked to draw out Lone Oak Cemetery. He slowly drew out burial plots in his bedroom. Duke was soon asked to draw out the new Cosmolab. In 1973 he started building houses. He would draw the floor plans, design the interior, and build trim work. He soon landed a job at Kroger and worked there for 18 years, still building houses and doing Sheetrock on the side.

Duke was known for building gunstocks with animal scenes. He built 15-20 guns at a time. Beginning in 1973 he airbrushed murals and paintings for people. He and his father decided to restore a houseboat. They re-did the inside and Duke painted the outside of it with an anchor and ribbon wrapping around the boat. In 1974, he worked for Chrysler airbrushing vans and 18-wheelers. Duke became well known for his airbrushing. Customers traveled from Nashville to have their vehicles painted. In the 1980s he built houses up to 7,000 square feet around Lewisburg.

He built for Saturn for a short period of time. For 12 to 15 years he had his own cabinet business. He has built around 100 sets of cabinets, along with mantels and furniture. He would design mantels to fit the customer's hobbies. He soon started building for the Elks Lodge of Lewisburg, which is unique in the country. He drew the floor plan, designed and carved the woodwork and etched the glass, and painted all of the murals.

"I had several people wanting me to carve and paint for Elks Lodges around the world. I turned them down, I wanted our Elks Lodge to be the most unique around," said Duke.

He also did pen and ink drawings for doctors around Marshall County and designed and built stainless steel commercial cookers.

"Anything I do, I do it to a perfection. When I do something for someone, it's always personally crafted. I don't do it for the money, I do it to put back into the community. I want my grandchild to go into the Elks Lodge or the cemetery and say 'my granddaddy made that," said Duke.

Duke has built two commercial cookers for the Tennessee Titans, and built another this year. The 17-foot long, 8 1/2-foot wide stainless steel commercial cooker was built for Hale Hawkins, who will take it to Titans home games. It features a smoker, grill, griddle, and fryer. The cooker is topped with LED lights that change to preferred colors, a stereo system, satellite television, and has a fold-out roof operated with hydraulics. It's all operated by a smart phone. The cooker made its public debut at the Democratic Rally this week in Rock Creek Park.

Along with Duke's list of credentials, he also built some of Lewisburg Printing and Hawk Converting, painted the Marshall County High School and Westhills Elementary tiger signs, carved walking sticks, built the S & D Food Mart (also known as Cathey Furniture), and designed and built a log cabin where he made rock work 600 feet long with five columns.

Duke is now the supervisor at Hawk Converting, and continues to do his artwork. "I've never had any training or schooling for what I've done. It's a God-given talent; however, I also think it's a trait passed down from my grandparents," said Duke.