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Duling bids farewell

Though he carried a camera with him everywhere when working on campus, on the day of his retirement he didn’t take any photos. But Ennis Duling was more than just Castleton State College’s director of communications; he was a writer, photographer, teacher and historian.
For 24 years until his recent retirement, Duling recorded and published the history of the college through his photography, press releases, newsletters, and annual magazine.
He began taking photos of theater productions in 1988, not knowing he’d capture every performance on stage for 48 semesters.
“I didn’t realize I was doing that until fairly recently, that I was documenting something,” Duling said. “You could almost look at a history of the theater department through the photographs.”
Colleagues marvel at Duling’s commitment to the college and its students, like how he provided images for a 1991 theater graduate who contacted him via Facebook.
“What made him special is that he was totally invested in the college and its students,” Castleton President Dave Wolk, said. “It was more than just a job, it was a passion. He has an affection for the students.”
Knowing what was happening at the college is what made Duling tick.
“I enjoy learning everything that’s going on on campus,” he said. “Sports, faculty, work, I love talking about it. I just like what’s going on at a college. I like meeting students.”
Karen Trudeau, a 2011 graduate, said when she was a work study student in the communication office, Duling would ask her to tell him something he didn’t know.
“Ennis is the role model that everyone should have in their field,” Trudeau said. “If I can have the intelligence, persistence and calm that he has then I’ll think that I’m successful.”
Trudeau added that Duling was also a compassionate individual who was highly aware of discretion and privacy.
“He thinks about all aspects of a situation and how to protect the people who need to be protected while also giving the public information in which they need.”
Jane Foley, who worked beside Duling since 1988, said she will miss working with such a rare, multi-talented person.
“He was very strong,” Foley said, adding, “He probably never knew that.”
Duling has shown himself to be a capable spokesman for the college, so much so that Wolk pronounced Duling “an unsung hero because of his self-effacing manner.”
He, however, would never describe himself so
floridly, much less wish to attract any personal attention. Foley said Duling didn’t want to give a retirement speech because he’d been to enough retirement parties and heard all the speeches.
When asked to describe his modesty and reserve, he amusingly responded, “Maybe I’m plotting.”
Duling grew up outside Philadelphia and remembers history as always being a part of his life.
“I feel like I’m living in a world and know where everyone is,” Duling said.
In college, Duling was an outdoor enthusiast and would sometimes explore caves with a local outing club. Once, after crawling through one cave system for over an hour, the group sat against the wall and saw they were near a wall that had had a Confederate flag carved into the cave wall.
“It was like they had just left and then we had lunch,” Duling recalled.
While hitchhiking from Pennsylvania to New York to visit his future wife and CSC Library Director Sandy, Duling stopped off at the Woodstock festival. He didn’t stay, perhaps because he doesn’t like large crowds.
But a large crowd didn’t stop him later that October from going to Washington D.C. and walking in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam demonstration.
The Dulings eventually located in Vermont after hiking the Long Trail and decided they liked the area enough to stay. For almost a decade, Duling taught at Middletown Springs Elementary School and then began freelance writing.
“I learned so much that year,” Duling said of his first year freelancing. “Things that year still stand out.”
Duling was published in several magazines including The Twilight Zone Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
“After that, I was able to get a job at Ski Racing Magazine,” Duling said.
He started out as an “assistant to an assistant” in 1982. Two years later Duling was an editor of the Nordic section.
When writing for Ski Racing Magazine, Duling met many skiers and coaches from around the area and from Castleton State College. He began to entertain the idea of working at a college and after a few years the communication position he’d hold for 24 years opened up.
Since his retirement, Duling still visits Castleton taking photos of theater productions and sports games and doing research in the library for his book projects. Currently he is working on a book about the rivalry between Yankee allies in the Revolutionary war entitled, The Yankee Front, while also acting as photo editor for Castleton’s 225th anniversary book.
Foley reminisced about Duling’s retirement party and recalled that he was without his usual camera in tow.
“We were having so much fun that he wasn’t even taking photos,” Foley said. “I’ll miss him a lot. Things change, they always do. I’m excited for the future, but I’ll mis him.”