W. Dorwin Teague
July 2, 1910 – September 16, 2004Industrial designer, engineer and inventor W. Dorwin Teague died Sept. 16, 2004, in Carbondale. He was 94.An enthusiastic skier, Dorwin Teague had a long relationship with the Roaring Fork Valley, arriving first in 1949 to try the new lifts on Aspen Mountain. A big storm had closed the passes, so he chartered a small airplane from Denver. When they flew into Aspen, there was no apparent place to land. The landing strip was under several feet of snow. A little frustrated, his pilot circled the town while figuring out what to do next until they noticed a taxi speeding away from the Hotel Jerome. The taxi drove out on Highway 82 to a straight stretch near Sardy Field, where the driver stood on the rear bumper and signaled down the road. Moments later, they landed on the empty highway, and the taxi took a very excited skier into town.Dorwin Teague’s adventure in the early days of skiing in Aspen continued at the top of the mountain, where some patrolmen were digging a slot machine out of the snow. Apparently, the remoteness of the location protected the somewhat illegal machine from observation of the law. A lift operator spotted the sheriff on his way up and stopped the lift while the sheriff dangled over a high spot. He then called up to the top to warn the patrol shack. By the time the sheriff arrived at the top, the machine was nowhere to be found. Dorwin happened to witness its recovery and get a quick introduction to the spirit of the town.Dorwin’s affection for Aspen grew, and he passed his enthusiasm for the town on to his family. Now, two of his sons have houses in the valley, and his four grandchildren were born in Aspen.Dorwin was born in Manhattan on July 2, 1910, the son of pioneer industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague and artist Cecil Fehon Teague. While an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he commuted on weekends to his father’s New York City office to design the body of the Marmon 16 automobile. The permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum contains a model of the Marmon 16 and other designs of Dorwin’s.As chief product designer for Walter Dorwin Teague Associates, he was responsible for the design of numerous ubiquitous household and office products, such as the National cash register, the A.B. Dick Mimeograph Machine and Montgomery Ward vacuum cleaners.During World War II, he worked for the Eclipse Pioneer Division of the Bendix Aviation Corp. on many defense-related projects. As head of the research engineering department, he was responsible for developing the Lark surface-to-surface and Loki surface-to-air liquid propellant rockets. His design for the first reclining dental chair won the Industrial Designers Institute’s Best Design of the Year for 1960. He also designed buildings and exhibits for the U.S. Information Agency in the former Soviet Union, and the Gas Inc. and Korean pavilions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.The 92 patents in his name between 1936 range from rockets and kitchen ranges to toothbrushes and bicycle brakes. Dorwin Teague was an avid sailor and car enthusiast, and raced cars and boats of all types. He wrote many articles on sailing for Yachting and Motor Boating magazines. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, and an honorary member of the Classic Car Club of America and the Marmon Owners Club.He published an autobiography, “Industrial Designer – the Artist as Engineer” in 1998.He moved to Colorado from Nyack, N.Y., in 2002.On July 25, 2004, he became one of the first two inductees to the Car Design Hall of Fame at the Concours d’Elegance at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He received the award in person, in a restored 1934 Marmon 12 prototype he designed.He married the former Harriette Barnard in 1939. She died in 1998. His brother, artist Lewis Teague, died in 1978. His sister, author Cecily Crowe, died in 1997.He is survived by his children, Walter Dorwin Teague III of Adelphi, Md.; Lewis Teague of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Aspen; Harry Teague of Basalt; and four grandchildren.There will be a memorial in the winter in New York.
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