Published: June 26, 2007
One of the great characters of New England, Doris Stauble of Wiscasset, Maine, died on June 13 at Miles Memorial Hospital. She was just shy, by a month, of her 90th birthday. She is survived by her daughter Patricia Stauble, also of Wiscasset, and by a granddaughter Donna Lorrain, and her husband David, and great-granddaughters Danielle and Mackenzie Lorrain, all of East Boothbay, Maine.
Doris grew up around Dumont, N.J. After she married John H. Stauble, they moved to Trinidad, British West Indies, where he was employed as an engineer. The Stauble name is well-known in Trinidad; the family owned much land and many businesses there. Stauble Bay carries the family name even today. Doris and John lived there for seven years, during which time Patricia was born and Doris became a Trinidadian gourmet cook. She was still cooking her favorite Creole dinners up until about two years ago.
When Doris and John moved back to Dumont, Doris opened a by-appointment-only antiques shop, and began doing many antiques shows with daughter Pat to help her. She introduced to that area of New Jersey her knowledge and eye for original painted items and folk art. When she would return from an “antiques buying trip” (often to sources she had sleuthed out in Maine), her longtime customer Fran Goldstein said, “They would be lined up waiting for first pick.”
Quite unexpectedly, someone offered to sell to Doris the contents of a warehouse on the Hudson River, well stocked with Victorian millinery fruit and flower embellishments. It was such an enchanting notion to Doris, although at the time she had absolutely no idea how she might use these things, that she took the plunge and bought out the warehouse contents. And thus was born Doris Stauble Arrangements.
Doris used antique containers as the receptacles for her arrangements. Often it was a handsome basket with some little damage she could cover up, a big beautiful spongeware bowl with a chip or minor crack, or a wooden trencher with flaws that she would fill with all sorts of the silk, velvet and paper mache small fruits and flowers. Then she would add larger pieces of old wax fruit here and there, using her artist’s eye for color and form. Often to satisfy her own criterion, she would have to dye some of the flowers and often, too, create in paper mache some of the fruit (such as a watermelon) that she was unable to find elsewhere. She was a perfectionist.
I think doing these arrangements is what led to her adopting a nocturnal lifestyle. She kept terrible hours, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, until she was satisfied with her creation. She produced and sold many exquisite one-of-a-kind arrangements, and these are very much sought-after today. A book on her arrangements is in preparation.
Doris and John made many good friends in the antiques business in New Jersey, so it was hard to say goodbye to them when they, along with Pat, moved to Wiscasset in the early 1970s. They bought the house on the corner of Summer and Main Streets and operated their business under the name II At Wiscasset Antiques. John died in 1979. By then, Pat was in the business with her mom, and later Pat moved a half-block away to run her own antiques business.
Doris adored gardening. She had a great sense of humor and loved to tell stories about some of her favorite customers, friends, favorite haunts and about her grandchildren.
She was very well-known and much respected in the antiques business. Many feel that she elevated Maine’s antiques trading stature with her knowledge and enthusiasm for early Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century furniture, accessories and folk art. To her, form and original painted surface were tantamount, and many who have come to Wiscasset since have followed her in this belief .
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