1945 – 2021
This is a picture of my friend Tom, Carpal Tunnel Blues Band musician, bird house designer, guitar collector, filmmaker, conceptual artist and ordained minister and spiritual counselor, The Reverend Dr. Pi. Quite a few years ago Tom gave me a studio photograph of himself. At our regular coffee and restaurant chats he often shared his website ideas and art works. This is an illustration from our conversations. One conversation was about his trip to the South to be tutored in the blues. He stayed in a shotgun house near a Mississippi juke joint. He wanted us to return. I would film his pilgrimage. We would stay in one of the rented shotgun houses with walls so thin the wind blew through them, covered inside with the posters of the musicians who had played at the juke joints. If anybody is looking for Tom he is probably playing at one of those juke joints and this poster is up on the wall.
Obituary for Thomas Daniel Dukich
Thomas “Tom” Daniel Dukich was a multifaceted artist, researcher, musician, teacher and creator of things, ever curious and dedicated to making connections with how the world works. He passed away on January 5, 2021, and will be remembered by the wide range of people he met throughout his many endeavors, as well as by the art, music and ideas he gave to the world.
Born in northern Minnesota in April 1945, Tom grew up in the small town of Pengilly, where he survived polio as a toddler, swam on the high school team, played golf, and once hitchhiked to Chicago to attend a Ray Charles concert. Earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Duluth, he then moved with his wife, Marlene Allen, and daughter Cynthia to attend graduate school at the University of Montana in Missoula. In the Northern Rocky Mountains, he realized his love of the outdoors and backpacking, hunting and fishing. After having a son, Steven, and earning his PhD in Psychology, he moved from Missoula to Spokane with his family to teach psychology at Gonzaga University. As a professor, and throughout the many stages of his life, he established deep and meaningful friendships, and one of these friends might speak for many when stating: “There is so much I could say about his curiosity, creativity and humor, how principled he was, his integrity, but a lot of my caring for him can be summarized by him being the only person I ever had a 5 1/2 hour lunch with. Needless to say, I was never bored as he veered from one topic to another that day.”
He loved taking his young kids to listen to bluegrass night at a local pizza place, where they would often fall asleep under the table to the sounds of guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and mandolin. Teaching himself to play the banjo, he enjoyed playing in regular bluegrass jams. He also loved Volkswagen bugs and Emmylou Harris, and after leaving Gonzaga, accepted a position at Washington Water Power (now Avista), where he was known for his convictions and determination to make decisions based on research, data and common sense. In 1986, he married Carolyn Schmitz, with whom he continued his adventures, travelling to Europe and Japan, and many other places both far and near. Applying his creative drive to drawing, painting, and conceptual sculptures, he became involved in Spokane’s art community and served as Chair of the Spokane Arts Commission from 1988-1993, where he helped coordinate projects to revitalize the core of the city. He also served on the Artist Trust Board of Directors from 1990-1992 and moved to the edge of town where he sought always to sustain balance within the natural world. Creating an art and wildlife haven around their home, he also served as president of the Bead Lake Clean Water Association, becoming a water quality expert as he fought to keep the lake pristine.
While enticing birds, racoons, deer and an occasional moose to frequent their property, his artwork expanded to include video, sound, and multi-dimensional pieces he called “assemblies.” Later projects include the three-hundred arch-top guitars he rescued and repaired through a labor of love, refurbishing these undervalued classics to get them back into the hands of music makers, and a documentary on the artist Harold Balazs, that when it sold out on DVD, he uploaded to You Tube: “to honor an artist, mentor, colleague, friend, and humanist,” traits he valued in others and embodied throughout his rich life. His memory will serve as an inspiration, motivation and blessing to many, and he will be dearly missed by his loving wife Carolyn Schmitz; daughter Cynthia Dukich, son-in-law David French and grandson Cooper Dukich French; and son Steven Dukich and daughter-in-law Aubrey Summers.
Those who wish, may contribute to Tom’s favorite charity Music Makers Relief Foundation https://musicmaker.org/ and may also visit his online Tribute Wall through Pacific Northwest Cremation (PNWC) of Spokane, www.pnwcremation.com where you can view pictures, stories, comments, and post your own memories.
To plant a tree in memory of Thomas Daniel Dukich, visit the Tribute Store.