Marion and Donald Woelbing, Franklin Wisconsin – Provenance – Pook 4-2014

A Connecticut banister-back armchair with rush seat, the crest in a heart and crown design, old green paint over black, circa 1760

p4A ItemID E8875285
A pair of similar William and Mary banister-back side chairs in black paint, each with rush seat, the crests with heart and crown designs, New England, circa 1750

p4A ItemID E8875276
A small one-drawer tavern table on block and turned legs, pine and maple, New England, circa 1770

p4A ItemID E8875268
A rare paint-decorated chest of drawers by Samuel Dunlap of New Hampshire, circa 1795-1810, cherry with vinegar painting

p4A ItemID F7925589

Marion and Donald Woelbing, Franklin Wisconsin.

Marion and Donald Woelbing were the solid citizen types that for generations have built American small businesses. They were a true partnership supporting each other in their diverse interests ranging from breeding and showing American Kennel Club grand champion prize winning dogs, to building with their own hands “Thorntree,” their home in suburban Milwaukee, to building an impressive collection of 17th and 18th century American antiques, to collecting varied toys and “collectables”.

Marion and Don’s partnership began in high school. They were married for 55 years and were best friends for life. Someone once asked Marion if the two of them ever disagreed and her response was, “About what? We pretty much agreed upon everything and in those rare instances where we didn’t, we deferred to whomever felt the strongest.”

Don’s father, Alfred, started a small company in 1937 that became Carma Laboratories, the manufacturer of Carmexâ„¢ lip balm, after a varied business career during the Depression. In the early days of Carma Labs, there was not enough business to support two families, but as the business grew Alfred asked Don, then a stone mason, to join him. Don had a particular talent for mechanical innovations; so as Carma Labs grew, the employees came to produce more Carmex with less effort.

It was quite natural that when Carma Labs became a financial success, Don would want to build a house with his own hands, in the way he had persevered in setting the foundation for Carma Labs’ business success. Don and Marion wanted to build an adaptation of a Pennsylvania stone farm house and furnish it in an appropriate fashion. To have it be “perfectly correct” would have meant bringing tons of stone from eastern Pennsylvania and Don decided that in this instance historical accuracy would be extravagant. “Thorntree” had all the modern conveniences, but some things, such as light switches, and heating outlets were cleverly hidden so they were not readily evident when one entered a room. As with most of their passions, they entered into furnishing “Thorntree” with enthusiasm after careful study.

The Woelbings were very generous when it came to their loved ones and their community. When the local fire department needed a new fire engine, Marion and Don gave them one. When a young woman needed a home, they acted as surrogate parents for her. Marion and Don were always proud of their two sons and two grandchildren, but there was always room in their home and their hearts for others in need.

-The Woelbing Family

Information courtesy of Pook & Pook Inc., April 2014

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