Other NJ News

Press Releases

Former employees of Doris Duke Share Reminisces of Growing Up, Living and Working on Massive Hillsborough Estate

Elisabeth McConville spent more than 20 years as a confidant and assistant to Doris Duke. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Carl Suk was born and lived in a cottage on the Doris Duke estate; he led Jackie Kennedy on a tour of the orchids in the greenhouses maintained by Duke. Credits: Rod Hirsch
This Bull Durham 14K gold necklace was gifted to Elisabeth McConville by Doris Duke. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Shown is the reverse side of the 14K gold Bull Durham necklace gifted to Elisabeth McConville by Doris Duke. Credits: Rod Hirsch
David Brook is the attorney for DORIS - Demolition of Residence is Senseless - and spoke at yesterday's forum. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Vintage postcard depicts the Doris Duke mansion as it appeared in 1915.

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Carl Suk grew up and lived in a cottage on the Duke Farms estate, tending to livestock and propagating rare orchids while Elisabeth McConville tended to Doris Duke’s daily affairs, from handling correspondence to tagging along on shopping binges in Beverly Hills.

Both were younger then, with Suk spending the early years of his life at the Hillsborough compound before heading overseas in 1969 to fight in Vietnam. Growing up, he worked with his uncle and grandfather, who were in charge of livestock and agriculture.

McConville, now director of the Raritan Valley Community College Foundation, was recruited as a young woman in her 20s to work closely with the wealthy heiress, then in her 60s. She described her job with Duke as “curator.”

Sign Up for E-News

She, too, lived on the expansive grounds along Route 206, and worked in the 67,000 square foot 19th-century mansion for more than 20 years, from the mid-1960s until the mid ‘80s.

McConville says the mansion was Duke’s favorite home.

Duke maintained lavish residences in California, Newport, R.I., Hawaii and an apartment in New York City, but the Hillsborough mansion was her preferred residence, her true home, according to McConville.

McConville and Suk shared their memories and reminisces with a group of 75 people at on Saturday at United Reformed Church on Main Street. The event was sponsored by DORIS, a dedicated group of local preservationists fighting to prevent the demolition of the Duke mansion.

“I grew up on the estate. This was my boyhood home,” Suk said.

The voice of DORIS – Demolition of Residence Is Senseless – is attorney David Brook, a Hillsborough resident, who has been leading the legal challenge. He urged those in attendance yesterday to become more involved in their campaign.

The Duke Farms Foundation has secured a demolition permit from Hillsborough Township, but has agreed to hold off pending the outcome of a decision by Superior Court Judge Ciccone expected by March 4th.

The mansion has fallen into disrepair, and has not been used since 2008. The foundation estimates it would cost as much as $20 million to restore the structure.

Doris Duke died in 1993, with an estate estimated at $1.8 billion now being managed by the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, based in New York City. The Duke Farms Foundation manages the Hillsborough property which is being transformed into a nature preserve and ecological education center, with more than 500,000 visitors annually.

The foundation has stripped the mansion of doors, wood panels, chandeliers, floorboards, indoor fountains, fireplace mantels and other architectural fixtures which have been or are being sold at auction.

The foundation argues the original mansion has no historical value, as Duke made additions and alterations to the structure over the years. The township’s Historic Commission agreed after several hearings that were held last summer and fall, voting to approve the demolition permit by a 6-1 vote.

Suk and McConville both were overcome with tears at times as they shared anecdotes collected over the years, much as their famous - and eccentric - employer collected priceless jewelry, exquisite wines and exotic animals, including a few camels that lived on the Hillsborough estate.

“We owe it to her to keep fighting for her mansion,” McConville said. “This is just wrong. This was her favorite house, the one she considered her home. I know what Doris wanted,” she continued. “It would be a travesty to tear down the one place she loved.”

Once a source of pride for Duke was the labyrinth of greenhouses where she tended to her orchids and other exotic fauna imported from around the world; the heiress oftentimes spent time with those who worked there, including Suk.

“I remember one Friday afternoon we were working in the potting shed and she walked in with a couple cases of beer; she sat down and drank with us,” Suk recalled.

Suk also remembers hanging out in the cow barn with his grandfather and uncle as a youngster.

“I could almost milk a cow before I could walk,” he said.

Both have their memories and precious gifts from their time spent working with Duke.

McConville wore a gold chain around her neck, with a 14K gold pendant gifted to her by Duke. The pendant is a replica of the Bull Durham logo, a tobacco company that grew from the ashes of the Civil War that was owned by the Duke family and ultimately managed by Doris Duke’s father, James Buchanan Duke. She was 12 when he died in 1925 and wrested control of the estate from her mother by 1932.

Duke continued the philanthropy her father practiced, giving untold millions to individuals and causes anonymously, according to McConville, who received and read most of the letters requesting Duke’s support.

“I opened the letters; I gave the requests to her,” she explained.

Duke was a world traveler, but was an ardent supporter of local causes, McConville noted, donating the acreage in Branchburg where the Raritan Valley Community College campus was built. She donated money for buses at Rutgers University, and helped the Branchburg Rescue Squad and Hillsborough fire departments.

She enjoyed gospel music and would convince pastors to let her sing with church choirs; eager to repay those favors, she donated organs and pianos to churches in New Jersey and the southern United States, according to McConville.

She also donated 250 livestock to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, according to Suk.

A woman of power and influence, world traveler, bon vivant and philanthropist, Duke was also a jazz pianist; another one of her pursuits was surfing.

Suk elaborated on Duke’s passion for her orchids and the temperature-controlled greenhouses where the delicate plants thrived. Suk was eventually placed in charge of some of the greenhouses. Duke hosted tours of the greenhouses, and entrusted Suk to lead those tours, a point of pride for the 69-year old wood carver, who now lives in Kentucky.

He was still a teenager when Duke asked him to lead some special guests through the greenhouses – Jackie Kennedy, the former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the former First Lady of China.

One treasure Suk salvaged from his time spent working at the estate are timbers from some of the barns on the property. He’s using the wood to make pens and pen and pencil sets.

He presented one of the sets to Brook yesterday, thanking the attorney for the work he has put in on behalf of DORIS.

He is selling the pens and sets online, with half of the proceeds being donated to DORIS. Contact Suk at nolinlakescrafts@gmail.com.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News



AtlantiCast: Episode 14

On this week’s AtlantiCast, an internationally recognized orthopedic oncologist takes a leadership role at Atlantic Health System, see the newest weapon in the fight against HPV-related cancers, Atlantic Health System leads the Castle Connolly / Inside Jersey Rankings, and much more!


I Need to Take Leave from Work Because of a Disability. What are My Rights and Obligations?

According to studies, as many as one in ten persons of working age in the United States have at least one disability.  As a result of a disability or illness, most of us will need to take extended leave during the course of a career.  If you or someone you know suffers from a disability or illness and needs to take time off from work, here are some important things to know:

Leave Can ...

Morris Animal Inn Hosts Live Q&A Session; Wednesday Feb. 28

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Do you have questions about grooming your dog? The Morris Animal Inn is hosting a Live Question and Answer Session on Wednesday February 28 at 11:30am. Tune in to have all your questions answered by Morris Animal Inn's Grooming Manager, Jayanne.

Morris Animal Inn offers:

Bath, brush out, ear cleaning and nail trim package
Haircut to your specifications
Healthy ...

Lend a Hand for Morristown's Annual Spring Clean Up; Saturday April 21

April 18, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Town of Morristown will hold its annual Spring Cleanup, this Saturday April 21. Branches and trash that typically accumulate in bushes, parks and along roads and walkways over the winter is more pervasive than usual this year.

The Morristown Beautiful and Morristown Clean Communities are co-sponsoring this year's Spring Clean-Up which will be held on Saturday, ...

Junior League of Morristown hosts Lunch with the Authors

BEDMINSTER NJ - The Junior League of Morristown is proud to present the 17th Annual Lunch with the Authors fundraising event May 4, 2018. The longest running event of its kind in New Jersey includes a panel discussion, book signing, and delicious luncheon featuring nationally acclaimed authors.

Lunch with the Authors has not only been a literary celebration featuring some of the ...

April Events at the Morristown Library

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morristown & Morris Township Library has lots of events going on in the month of April. Scroll down to find one for you!

Thursday, April 05

7:00 PM

Three Civil War Generals from Morristown

Disgraced generals and court martials. Bungled orders. Sensational newspaper stories. Political machinations. Insanity and institutions. Idealism and bureaucracy.

Health Event: Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

April 26, 2018

Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center presents “Protecting Your Colorectal Health” on Tuesday, May 1from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion, 333 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway. Admission is free.

This popular, educational program presents an opportunity to hear up-to-date presentations from leading ...

Grand Encampment This Weekend at Morristown's Jockey Hollow

Morristown, NJ – On Saturday April 21 and Sunday April 22, re-enactors will participate in Jockey Hollows' Grand Encampment. The event focuses on the life and times of soldiers and civilians during the Revolutionary War. 

The re-enactment will take place at Jockey Hollow, 580- 600 Tempe Wick Road Morristown from 11am to 4pm, both days. The events are free and ...

Special Concert in Morristown Features Doolin'; Friday Apr. 20

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Folk Project will present a special concert featuring Doolin’ on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 7:30 PM. The concert will be held at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 at www.FolkProject.org or at the door for $25.

Doolin’ is France’s ...

Mennen Sports Arena Welcomes New Skating School Administrator

April 25, 2018

North Atlantic Regional Competitor Whitney Trif Joins The Staff

MORRISTOWN, NJ. The Morris County Park Commission is pleased to announce to Mennen Sports Arena skating staff, Whitney Trif.

Ms. Trif brings an abundance of skating experience as a North Atlantic Regional Competitor, Senior Level in Moves in the Field, and Gold Medalist-Senior Level Freestylist. Previously, she was the Skating ...

Community Invited to Morristown Anniversary Prayer Walk

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Pastors David Smazik and Sidney Williams invite the community to join them for the 175th Bethel Church of Morristown Anniversary Prayer Walk. The Prayer Walk will celebrate the founders of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church as well as the African American soldiers and sailors who are buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Those interested should meet The Presbyterian ...

Morristown Cat Missing Since Last Week; Help Needed to Find Him

MORRISTOWN, NJ - A cat has been missing from the Morristown area since last week and the owner is asking residents to keep an eye out for him

Jack, is a black and grey short haired tabby cat that is shy but very friendly, stated his owner. He  is an indoor cat, without a collar, that has been missing from the house, in the area of Woodland Avenue And Albert ...

Teens Explore Careers in Aviation at Morristown Airport

April 23, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - On April 18th, a new Aviation Explorer Post was started at Morristown Airport.  The goal of the post is to help young men and women, ages 14-20, learn about careers in aviation. 

At the first meeting, the Explorers toured the airport and discussed which careers the post will focus on at future meetings.  Pilot, air traffic controller, maintenance, and design are ...

The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum is now Accepting Applications to the Cora's Conservation Corps Teen Volunteer Program

The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum is now accepting applications for Cora's Conservation Corps Teen Volunteer Program.

Cora’s Conservation Corps is a service-based program where teens participate in four major activities: environmental education, forest conservation, citizen science, and volunteerism. Through these activities, individuals develop leadership skills, fine-tune public ...

CCM to Air Weekly Television Show

RANDOLPH, NJ – The Alex DeCroce Media Center at County College of Morris (CCM) is now airing a new series of programs titled “Spotlight: Morris County” on Morris Educational Television (METV).

Each 30-minute episode will be aired on METV Channels 40 and 77 on Mondays first at 9 a.m., then at 3 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.

Professor Julian Costa, ...

Ricky's Compass Launched Honoring Founders Wish

April 25, 2018

FLORHAM PARK, N.J.- Ricky Godoy was a confident, intelligent and outgoing entrepreneur. Ricky refused to let his diagnosis define him and went on to establish his own multimedia business, YODOG media (his last name backwards!).  Within the year, he became a thumbtack pro because of his genuine personality, outstanding services and unparalleled work ethic.  However, he was ...

Bristol-Myers Squibb Chemist Used Thallium to Poison Husband

April 24, 2018

MONROE, NJ - A local woman who killed her husband using "the poisoner's poison" did not win an appeal yesterday to have her life sentence repealed.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a Monroe Township woman’s 2013 murder conviction was affirmed today by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

Tianle Li, 48, of Monroe Township ...

Want to avoid gaining weight? Don’t diet!

Researchers aiming to identify lifestyle factors related to weight management followed more than 4,500 young adults (average age 24) for ten years. At the end of the study period, 77% of the men and 72% of the women had gained weight. The lifestyle factors associated with no weight gain among the remaining 23% of the men and 28% of women were regular eating patterns (not skipping meals) and no ...

7 Tips For Using Mirrors in Your NJ Home

Mirror, mirror on the wall, how to decorate with them, if at all? First of all, mirrors serve as the perfect complement to nearly any space, so should definitely be incorporated in your New Jersey home decorating.  Secondly, if used thoughtfully, mirrors add considerable value to a space both aesthetically and functionally. So how should you bring on the mirrors? Team Nest Builder offers ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)


How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

The First One Hundred Days of the Murphy Administration: Immigrant Rights in the Garden State 

April 25, 2018

After running an unprecedented and successful pro-immigrant campaign, Governor Phil Murphy has taken significant strides towards building a state that is fair and welcoming for all New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status. New Jersey’s immigrants are a growing force statewide. One in five New Jersey residents is foreign born. 500,000 undocumented immigrants call the Garden ...

April is STD Awareness Month and Get Yourself Tested Month

April 21, 2018

April is Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Awareness Month, a national campaign to increase awareness about education, treatment, and prevention of STDs.  

STDs are common, affecting 1 in 2 sexually active people during their lifetime - and most people don't know they are infected.  The rate of STDs is increasing, with a 68% increase in bacterial sexually transmitted ...

New Jersey Fashion Companies Capitalize on State Resources to Grow

NJ Business Action Center recently assisted Adore Me and Better Team USA to identify space and financing.

The U.S. apparel market is the largest in the world, valued at over 360 billion dollars. However, the market has been disrupted by the rise of e-commerce, and is moving beyond established locations like NYC’s garment district. 

That said, like every industry, fashion ...

Candidate Statement; Falkner, Gyorfy Announce Bids for Morris Township Committee

April 12, 2018

Dan Falkner and Mark Gyorfy submitted their petitions to run for Morris Township Committee with the endorsements of the Morris County and Morris Township Democratic Committees. Falkner, a Navy veteran and former investment banker, and Gyorfy, a volunteer firefighter and former congressional staffer, intend to bring their public service experience to Morris Township’s governing body to ...

Candidate Statements: John Cesaro and Aura Dunn form Freeholder Ticket

“The Smart, Conservative Choice for Morris County”

Incumbent Cesaro and Mendham Borough resident, Aura Dunn will run together for the Republican Primary on June 5, 2018.

Both candidates hold advanced degrees and have a combined 40 years in public service.  Cesaro, with a law degree from Quinnipiac University and Dunn, a Master of Public Administration from the George ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 26

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Les Photos de Bernie at the Wayrick ...

Arts & Entertainment Green


Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM

Florham Park

Ladies Night at Lucy's Gift with Special Guest ...

Fri, April 27

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Les Photos de Bernie at the Wayrick ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Motor Vehicle Stop Leads to Arrest for Morristown Man

April 24, 2018

4/11: ARREST FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for an equipment violation in Randolph. An investigation led to Sebastian Palacio-Vallejo, age 18, of Wharton, to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was released with a court date pending.

4/11: ARREST FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for ...

2nd Annual Denim & Diamonds Fundraiser Celebrates the graduation of its 2017-2018 SOAR students

April 25, 2018

Morristown NJ: The Spring Street Community Development Corp. will be hosting its 2nd Annual Denim & Diamonds Gala and requests contributions for the Tricky Tray and Silent Auction in support of its organization’s endeavors.

The fundraiser will be held on May 7th at the Hyatt Regency in Morristown, NJ. Tickets are available at $145 per person. The event’s proceeds will be ...