Don Duso, right; Kim Duso, left, in the boat shop (the photograph is a composite, made from three separate images) Don Duso at the aftermath of the February 15, 1986, Big D fire, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 20, 1986

Born: 1931

Died: January 10, 2010


Children: Kim, Valerie Ann

Don Duso owned and operated the Crescent Bay marina started by his father, Harry Duso, in 1924. He was Chief of the Saranac Lake Fire Department; he served as chairman of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee for 23 years, and king of the Carnival in 1988. He was involved with the carnival since 1955 when he began cutting blocks for the Ice Palace using a power saw that his father built in 1939. He was named Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year in 1984.

He was a member of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department for 53 years, having joined the department in April, 1956. He served as Chief of the department from 1983 to 1986, from 1988 to 1991, from 2003 to 2005 and from 2007 until his death.

He is also known for having saved Albert Einstein in the summer of 1941 when the great man capsized his sailboat.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, 1999 Winter Carnival supplement

Don Duso continues to play integral role after 43 years


Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - After 43 years of involvement in Winter Carnival, Don Duso still enjoys preparing the village for the annual mid-winter event,

Duso became involved in the carnival in 1956, the first year he cut ice out of Lake Flower for the ice palace. When the village's saw fell into Lake Flower, Duso, using a circular saw built by his father, was called in to help with the palace and he's been involved with the construction ever since.

"It's good project and it's fun," Duso said, "It's a lot of cold work, but I enjoy it. I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it."

During construction of the palace, Duso cuts between 100 and 300 blocks of ice each morning. Each year, he cuts between 1,500 and 1,800 blocks for the annual Ice Palace.

Soon after, Duso became involved in the Winter Carnival Committee.

I'm a civic minded person," Duso, the committee's chairman, remarked. "I like volunteering. It's getting a little old hat now, but I still enjoy it."

Throughout the years, the carnival has changed little, Duso noted. Although he admitted it was harder to raise money and find volunteers to make the event a success. Fund-raising is more difficult as it has become a full-time job. Duso praised the work of Jacques DeMattos for the fund-raising effort he has led for the past few years. And he attributed the difficulty to a drop in volunteerism.

"It's longer now but we basically have the same core events," he said.

Duso, the parade marshall, indicated the parade and the ice palace are the biggest attractions at the carnival that traditionally draws 12,000 people to village on the second Saturday of the carnival.

"It's (parade) a good event and draws a lot of people in and draws a lot of money into the town," Duso said. "A lot of merchants depend on it to get through the winter. It's the boost you need half-way through winter to keep you going."

For Duso, the high point of the carnival is the parade.

"A good parade always gets me going," he said with a laugh.

Asked what has been most memorable, Duso said the high-point was when he was elected Winter Carnival King in 1986. He also pointed to the 100-member bands that used to participate in the parade.

"The kids are close to my heart as well," he said. "This is what Winter Carnival is all about. It's for the kids."

He added that the most rewarding part of carnival is a combination of the slide show Sunday night coupled with fireworks.

"It brings everything to a crescendo, you kind of crash after that," he said.

Although he wouldn't offer a specific date, Duso said he would be stepping away from the Winter Carnival Committee soon.

"It's time for a change. I still enjoy it but I don't see myself doing it for too many more years."

When he was ten, he helped rescue summer visitor Albert Einstein after Einstein's sailboat overturned in Lower Saranac Lake.

He served in the Korean War.