Doris Duncan, originally from Florida, has made Gruetli-Laager her home. Many people know her from her years of organizing festivals and events in the community. She recently talked with the Herald about moving to the mountain as a child, raising her family, and her busy life.
How did a Florida girl make her way to Grundy County?
“I came here as a child, when I was 12, from Hollywood, Florida. My parents, Judy Sanders and the late James H. Sanders, brought our family here and settled in Gruetli-Laager. I am one of four kids – Joanne Brown, Teresa Fann, and James Sanders, Jr. are my siblings.
“It was hard moving at age 12. I started a new school, at Swiss Elementary. But, you know what? I made the best friends there. Most of the close friendships I still have today are with the friends I made in eighth grade.
“After Swiss, I went to the old Grundy County High School and graduated in 1983. I was in the band for three years as part of the Color Guard. The band during those years was wonderful. We won lots of awards. My senior year, the school lost funding for the band, so I was only able to participate my first three years of high school.”
Did you go to work after high school?
“I did. I worked at Brown’s Dairy Bar during high school. Then, when I graduated, I went to work at Regency Nursing Home in Monteagle. That was where I met my husband, Steve Duncan. We have three children – Erik Duncan who owns Mountain Goat Market with his wife Spencer; Alicia Richardson, a schoolteacher in Whitwell; and Alex who is a junior at UTC.
“After I had children I became a stay-at-home mom. I raised my children until they went to school. I also babysat most of the kids in the neighborhood at one time or another. It is amazing to see them today, and they still remember me.
“During those years, I was the PTA mom, I worked with Girl Scouts and Brownies, and I really volunteered for just about anything the school wanted me to do.
“When the kids were little, I had a real passion for helping the children at St. Jude’s Hospital. I organized the first St. Jude’s beauty pageant on the mountain and over 11 years, with the help of my mom and sisters, we raised over $90,000.”
You now work for Big Creek.
“After my kids were in school, I went back to work. I worked at Head Start, in the kitchen. I really wanted to be in the classroom, but there wasn’t an opening at the time.
“Then, in 2001, I started working at Big Creek as the office assistant.
“I also have my own trophy business, DAD’s, which stands for Doris Ann Duncan. I got started with trophies back when I was working with the St. Jude’s beauty pageants. Now, I am also doing personalized items and gifts using a sublimation process.”
In addition to both jobs, you are very active in the Gruetli-Laager community.
“Yes, I work with the festivals we do in the community. Linda Broom, the former mayor, and I became friends and decided to do things for Gruetli-Laager and the whole community. We have done “Easter in the Park” for the past three years. Every year I am the Easter Bunny and ride in on the fire truck.
“Our Fourth of July celebration is really big. We have been doing it for three or four years. And, we just had our “Halloween in the Park” which was a huge success. All of these events take lots of planning and organization. Allen Joslyn, my husband Steve, and the late Dwayne Brewer have all played a big part in the events.”
I don’t know how you would find the time, but do you have any favorite hobbies or pastimes?
“I love to travel. I just got back from Key West where I celebrated my 50th birthday, and in August, I went to Jamaica. I love all the Florida beaches. I am a workaholic, so when I travel, it is because I really need to get away.
“We also love to go four-wheeling in the mountains.”
Doris says the next big item on her list is to become a grandmother. “I am patiently waiting, and I tell everybody this,” she says. Gruetli-Laager made the right decision in naming this community-minded lady “Citizen of the Year” several years ago.