Backstory & Beyond

For over 25 years, my father, Richard Dugan, worked with families in Minnesota, South Dakota and throughout the Midwest through festivals and conferences to outfit musicians, young and old, with quality instrument packages through Richard Dugan Violins. Perhaps that's what brought you here today. Welcome! It's my delight to carry on his legacy and help outfit the next generation with the love of music. 

I am an independent musical instrument outfitter with a passion to equip families with the musical tools they need to begin, and nurture, a life-long musical interest.

Unfinished Violin

Unfinished Business

In Memory of Richard L. Dugan

...and 18 days after his initial diagnosis, he was gone.

79 years young. Just a year and a half ago he and mom helped us move in  to our new home 6 hours away. Then, he started to slow down, like a  clock that needed winding. He began to shuffle a bit. A couple falls.  He'd have some discomfort - aches in his thighs. What we later came to  understand were the cancer cells crowding out his healthy marrow and  exerting internal pressure on his bones. But it wasn't presenting in his  blood yet. So they continued to investigate.

Infusions would pep him up for a while so he could function nearly  normally for a man of his age, with a little help. Until the night he  began to have some gripping chest pains. He'd had two stents more than a  decade ago, so they went to the nearby hospital to be sure.

Not the heart. Whew. But, pneumonia. And then troubling bloodwork. Then  an airlift to Sioux Falls. A top notch oncology team. A dizzying battery  of exams.


Acute myeloid leukemia.

And more tests - bone marrow tap, chromosomal DNA testing to pinpoint which of many varieties.

A week in and weaker still, but alert and communicative. Sick of being sick.

First round of chemo to try to curb it. He tolerated it well. Tired him  out but no nausea. No vomiting. And years had already taken his hair.  "Just give me a razor and a tooth pick and I could go home." He hated  that he couldn't shave. He'll proceed through second round and  reevaluate. We thought.

Then came the final pathology. Of the cells tested, "no normal cells".   Every cell "multiple mutations". "Prognosis in MDS per IPSS-R = very  poor." Stop treatment.

10 days later...gone.

And here I stand at his workbench in his basement workshop. There it sits.
A dismantled, half-varnished violin and a glass jar of hardened varnish  with a fossilized brush protruding from the amber resin. Only one of  hundreds of violins that had passed that workbench in varying need of  setup or repair.

Of all of the memories of the last few days with him that remain, that  image - after he'd gone - haunts me. The unfinished business on his  workbench. Who's fiddle was it? What plans did he have for it? How  valuable is was it to him? Does it have a story? A history? A future? A  home?

Who knows?

Its implications haunt me more. What unfinished business do I have on  the workbench of my life that I plan to get to "some day"? Lord, may it  never be an unsaid, "I love you" or forgiveness withheld or the regrets  of "I wish I would have..."

He awoke in the delight of His Savior and the host of saints and loved  ones gone before. But we remain. Grieving.  But grateful that all he  left unfinished was a half-varnished violin...and a terribly  disorganized workshop.

Thanks, Dad.

RLD 2/3/1936 - 9/4/2015