Duke Stern by “A Magic Nut”
Important to Abbott Magic Company history and the village of Colon, Michigan is a man by the name of Duke Stern (1913 – 1973). I never had the pleasure of meeting Duke or knew much about him except knowing that he was buried at Colon’s Lakeside cemetery. The following is taken from the September 1965 issue of TOP’s Magazine. It appears in a column titled “Magic Nuts I Have Known” By One Of Them: “Again we take you to Colon, Michigan, where the subject of this month’s article now resides. Although he has been living in many places since he took up the magic wand, he seems to be happy in his present location. A comparatively young man, he has many years of experience in various branches of the entertainment world. Fundamentally of course, he is a magician. And a very clever one, too. Has a great sense of humor and manages to tie up his magical effects with clever comedy routines that are always productive of my laughter and many return engagements. He is also an expert musician and his favorite instrument is the violin. Has appeared in pit bands in theatres and with small intimate combos in nite clubs. Is a skilled cartoonist as well and likes to leave his calling cards with a clever caricature for his booking agents. At one time he was manager of a prosperous magic shop in Indianapolis. And for a while he was a clothing salesman below the Mason and Dixon line. He likes to work as a “stooge” for other magicians at magical affairs, especially with Monk Watson and Karrell Fox. He is now one of the staff of the Abbott Magic Co. in Colon. He appeared as emcee on one of the 1965 Abbott Get-Together shows and made an indelible impression with his clever magic and comedy. Has made quite a name for himself, although his parents had already made the name of DUKE STERN for him.”
In 1993 Karrell Fox did a cemetery tour and tells the story that after Duke’s death he was cremated. Putting the urn in the box they decided to wrap it so it wouldn’t rattle around. They took some newspapers of Recil Border’s desk and wrapped the urn in them. A few weeks later Recil wanted to know who had been fooling around with the papers on his desk. Turns out that Recil had placed stencils of Abbott’s price list between sheets of the newspaper to dry. So, Duke Stern is buried with Abbott’s price list. Duke had requested that he be cremated and some of his ashes put in a vase on the counter at Abbott’s Magic so he could still work for them! Duke was legally blind at the time of his death but that did not appear to slow him down!