“Beauty of nature most creatively enhanced in a truly unpretentious manner.”
The recent passing of Bud Dugan leaves an undisputable void in originality further enriching Mother Nature’s splendor.
Rosalie, his wife of almost 56 years, accompanied by their children, Garrett and Shari, reflected on the unassuming man of many talents.
There wasn’t anything he couldn’t build with board, saw and hammer, augmenting with intricate etching into each unique grain glowing brilliantly.
His oil paint brush brought landscape, wildlife, whatever the eye could imagine beyond its own magnificence seemingly bringing each and all to life right on canvas.
“Bud could envision a completed project with every unique piece of wood he’d find and develop the natural grain to be even lovelier. He’d envision what it could be, when almost everybody else just saw a board,” contended Rosalie Dugan.
“Even though he took art one year in high school, and did have a few painting instructions, Bud was virtually self-taught. He always enjoyed anything to do with art, and was continually seeing and thinking of something else he could build or paint. Bud had that natural ability and desire to create,” Rosalie assured.
“Dad always wanted to share what he did with others. He gave painting lessons for a number of years, and built many unique pieces of furniture for other people,” Shari said.
“At one time, Dad was building a lot of high chairs out of different kinds of wood, and engraving children’s names or initials in them, so each one was individually personalized and unique,” Garrett added.
Born December 29, 1937, son of W.E. Walt and Gladys Dugan at Alta Vista, Everett Wayne Dugan, always known as Bud, grew up working with livestock and assisted in training horses, an ability for which his dad was known. “Bud especially enjoyed going along with his dad when they were custom hauling livestock,” Rosalie verified.
“He broke the state high school record in the half mile run in 1957, the year he graduated from Alta Vista,” pointed out his four-year high school sweetheart, Rosalie Conwell, who Bud married when she finished school in 1958.
“Bud had to wait a year for me, and fortunately for me, he did. We moved to Denver looking for a profession. He found one delivering parts for Denver Air Machinery, even though it took him quite a while to figure his way around the city,” Rosalie claimed.
With the likelihood of Uncle Sam making a demanding call, Bud enlisted in the Air Force. “We moved to Mountain Home, Idaho, where Bud was an airplane mechanic,” Rosalie said.
Garrett was born in 1963. “Bud had to pawn his watch to pay the bill, and get mother and baby out of the hospital,” his wife remembered.
Shari was born a year later in 1964. “Doctors thought they were going to have to induce labor, so that Shari would be born while Bud was still in the Air Force. We couldn’t have afforded it as civilians. Times were tough during that period of our lives,” Rosalie admitted.
When Bud’s Air Force service was completed, the family moved back to Denver, where he worked for his former employer, doing mechanical work. He then sold diamond drills bits for track crawlers used in gold mines, before working for a couple concrete pump firms.
Bud’s artistic hobbies were developing in Denver, as well, where he initially gave painting lessons, and completed his first major woodworking project. “It was a camper for our pickup, but sadly Bud accidentally sawed off his ring finger. It was terribly sad, but later I’d tease him he had found a way not to wear his wedding ring,” Rosalie said.
“We went many places in that camper,” she continued. “Our favorites were water skiing, snowmobiling, riding four-wheelers, camping and hiking in the mountains. One of our special family activities was driving in the mountains to look at the fall foliage, especially the aspen trees.”
“Dad even invented a couple of parts for the machines that would pump concrete up for construction of 60 story buildings,” said Garrett, who also worked for the company along with his mother, an office employee there.
When the firm was sold, the family was without jobs and saw it as opportunity to move back to Kansas. “Bud’s dream was to return to Alta Vista and build a home, and that he did right where he was raised,” Rosalie said.
They acquired his parent’s ten acres at the north edge of Alta Vista which was the same tract where Bud grew up.
“In our ‘dream home,’ Bud’s visionary artistic skills were really put to the test as this was the most challenging project he ever undertook,” Rosalie insisted.
They also built a barn and had horses for a number of years. “The barn is filled with lumber now,” Shari inserted.
Although far from retirement age, Bud pursued his life’s passion in art and woodworking.
“Bud built our home, made lots of furniture, ours and for many others, and did some odd jobs. While working on building our home, Bud also remodeled a couple of houses here in town, and then sold them,” related his wife, who worked for the Corps of Engineers for 26 years.
Easy to say, their home is truly “one of a kind,” but the many personalized touches can only come close to be adequately appreciated by a personal tour.
And, when Bud was hosting such, his self-effacing manner insinuated anybody could have done the work, which was the furthest from being the way it was. Truly, the unique tedious construction design was the work of only one artist-carpenter.
“The big mountain puzzle at the front door is made out of all different kinds of wood and attracts the most comments from visitors to our home now,” said Rosalie, adding that much of their furniture was also built by her husband.
Having a public studio in Alta Vista for a time and giving painting lessons, Bud took special delight in cutting his own lumber to make frames for the students and his own paintings, after acquiring a saw mill about ten years ago.
“Dad did some custom work with the saw mill, but he enjoyed sawing lumber for his own projects. Walnut had to be his favorite wood with the always unusual grains,” Garrett said.
Stricken by a form of leukemia about the same time, Bud remained diligent in pursuit of his woodworking business until medical treatments prohibited it.
“His last major project was a walking bridge over our pond, but it’s never seen any water under it. The bridge was another dream Bud had, and he made sure that was completed,” Rosalie said.
One consolation if there can be any, was that Bud’s artistic and woodworking aptitudes have been imparted to future generations.
Son Garrett said: “I have been working closely in carpentry, woodworking and furniture creations. My son Brandon, my dad’s grandson, is also interested in woodworking.”
Daughter Shari said: “I have always done a lot of drawing, and worked on many woodworking crafts. My children Toshia and Paul, dad’s other grandchildren, have instinctive ability in various forms of art, too.”
Although he will be greatly missed by his entire family, Bud Dugan’s legacy lives on through his children and grandchildren, the beautiful home he built and the hundreds of pieces of personalized completely unique furniture in it, as well as the pieces he created and spread throughout the community.