W. Dorwin Teague | AspenTimes.com
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W. Dorwin Teague

Aspen Times writer

W. Dorwin Teague, industrial designer, engineer and inventor, died on Sept. 16, in Carbondale, Colo. He was 94, and moved to Colorado from Nyack, N.Y., in 2002. An enthusiastic skier, Teague had a long relationship with the Roaring Fork Valley, arriving first in 1949 to try the newly installed lifts on Aspen Mountain. At that time, a big storm had closed the roads to Aspen, so he chartered a small airplane from Denver. But there was no obvious place to land in Aspen as the landing strip was under several feet of snow. A little frustrated, his intrepid pilot circled over town while figuring out what to do next. They then 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 the plane landed on the empty highway, and the taxi took a very excited skier into town.Teague’s adventures in the early days of skiing in Aspen continued at the top of the mountain, where some patrolmen were digging a “one-armed bandit” (slot machine) out of the snow. Apparently the patrolmen figured their somewhat illegal machine was protected from the law by the remoteness of the location. An alert lift operator spotted the sheriff on his way up to spoil the fun and stopped the lift while the sheriff dangled over a high spot. He then called up to the top to warn the patrollers. By the time the sheriff arrived at the top, the machine was nowhere to be found. Teague happened to witness its recovery and get an quick introduction to the spirit of a unique, fun-loving, irreverent, new ski town. With that auspicious introduction and some spectacular skiing, Teague’s affection for Aspen grew and he passed his contagious enthusiasm for the little ski town in the Rockies on to his family. Now, not surprisingly, two of his sons have houses in the valley and his four grandchildren were born in Aspen.Born in Manhattan in 1910, he was the son of Walter Dorwin Teague, the pioneer industrial designer, and the artist Cecil Fehon Teague. While an engineering student at M.I.T., he would commute on weekends by Ford Tri-motor to his father’s office in New York City to design the body of the innovative Marmon 16 automobile. 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 the World War II he worked for the Eclipse Pioneer Division of the Bendix Aviation Corporation on defense-related projects and was responsible for the development of the Lark surface-to-surface and Loki surface-to-air liquid propellant rockets. After the war he designed the first reclining dental chair, awarded the Best Design of the Year by the Industrial Designers Institute in 1960. Also in the late 1950s, he designed buildings and exhibits for the United States Information Agency in the former Soviet Union.In addition to buildings and exhibits at international exhibitions in Moscow, Zagreb, Vienna and Geneva, he designed the Gas, Inc. and Korean Pavilions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. As an inventor, Teague has 92 patents in his name between 1936 and 1992.Teague was an avid sailor and a car enthusiast, successfully racing cars and boats of all types. He was the author of numerous articles on sailing for Yachting magazine and Motor Boating magazine. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, The Classic Car Club of America (honorary member) and the Marmon Owners Club (honorary member).He published an autobiography, “Industrial Designer The Artist as Engineer” (Armstrong) in 1998.On July 25 of this year, Teague 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, riding in the beautifully restored 1934 HCM Marmon 12 prototype of his design.Teague’s wife, the former Harriette Barnard, whom he married in 1939, died in 1998. His brother, the artist Lewis Teague, died in 1978. His sister, the 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, and Harry Teague, of Basalt, and four grandchildren. A memorial will be held in New York this winter.


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