Friends remember vintage clothing collector's generosity
Duluth lost much more than a big-time vintage clothing collector when Doug Moen died last month, friends said Saturday. "He was the color and the heart of Duluth," said Susan Bennett of Rice Lake Township. Bennett, 51, and her husband, Geoffrey B...
Duluth lost much more than a big-time vintage clothing collector when Doug Moen died last month, friends said Saturday.
"He was the color and the heart of Duluth," said Susan Bennett of Rice Lake Township.
Bennett, 51, and her husband, Geoffrey Bennett, 60, were among friends who gathered on Saturday afternoon in the dimly lit, old-timey confines of Tycoons Rathskeller in the subbasement of downtown's old City Hall. The setting seemed to complement the clothing that Moen so enthusiastically collected, and some who came wore clothing that came from him.
Moen, who established 18 antique and costume shops at various times in the Twin Ports, was 65 when he died Feb. 21 from injuries sustained when he fell down an elevator shaft in a Superior warehouse.
He accumulated 100,000 pieces of vintage clothing by 2005, according to his obituary, and supplied pieces for the sets and costumes of several movies.
The Bennetts were dressed in black -- Geoffrey in the 1930s tuxedo he got from Moen to wear at their wedding, and Susan in gloves she got from Moen, along with black dress and black hat.
Susan Bennett, a clothing collector herself since she was 5, said that when she met Moen in 1980 "he justified my collecting."
She worked with Moen in one of the many stores he operated, Doug's Dandy Duds, in the mid- 1990s. Moen needed her to stay in the store, Bennett said, because he could only stay there for a couple of hours at a time.
"As soon as he was there, all these street people would show up," she said, and Moen would never turn them down. "He'd go through $100 in an hour. ... I called him Saint Douglas."
Moen's generosity was a consistent theme at the gathering.
"The guy was ready to help anybody at any time," said Kerry Welsh, 64, of Midway Township, who first met Moen in a bar in the late 1960s.
Moen's latest business partner agreed.
"He always took care of downtrodden people," Bruce McCurdy said. "It didn't matter if he had known them for one week or for 40 years."
McCurdy joined Moen in his current venture, Retro Revisited Antique Mall at 118 E. First St.
Like Bennett, McCurdy found he needed to stay and run the shop while Moen ran everywhere else.
"Dougie ... had a little bit of attention deficit disorder and he was hyper," McCurdy said. "He was always on the go. ... He only gives you a little bit of time before his phone rings, and then he runs off to the next emergency."
But if Moen had a frenetic pace, he seemed to have the opposite effect on people who encountered him, the Bennetts said.
"It was this magic world," Susan Bennett said. "The minute you were with Doug, everything slowed down."
Although he hadn't seen Moen much in recent years, Welsh's thoughts about his friend haven't diminished.
"He was my most unforgettable character," Welsh said.