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From Wall Street to donuts

One morning in the spring of 2005, Jerry Dupree woke up to find a lump on his neck the size of a marble. By noon, he said the lump had grown to the size of a golf ball.After seeing several doctors and receiving several opinions, Dupree found himself at a dermatologist’s office. When the lump couldn’t be biopsied, Dupree opted to have it removed. Although his blood work never showed anything of concern, a follow-up scan showed that his abdomen, arm pit and neck were riddled with stage 3 lymphoma.ìI was feeling fine,î Dupree said. The lump was the only indication that something was wrong. In June 2005, he started chemotherapy through the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center and returned every three weeks for treatments. ìThe nurse said, ‘We try to bring you as close to death as possible, then we bring you back,’î Dupree said.He had his final treatment right before Christmas that year, and a scan in early 2006 showed that the cancer was completely gone. Now, Dupree goes for yearly scans.Five years later, his scans are still clean. Dupree’s life hasn’t slowed down, however. Having recently opened Southern Maid Donuts in Falcon, he said things have been as busy as ever. ìI knew it was now or never to pursue my dream,î he said.As a former configuration manager for Verizon, the idea of finding what he wanted to do with his life was always in the back of his mind, Dupree said. ìI worked for Verizon from 2000 to December of 2010. I got the ‘hint’ that our group would be moving to India,î he said. ìThen one day, I got a call saying I was no longer needed. The call was coming from India.îThat call sealed his fate. Dupree, who had already talked with the Southern Maid Donuts franchise about opening a store, called them up and said, ìI’m in.îAs a graduate of Louisiana State University, Dupree holds a degree in finance. ìI always thought I wanted to be a Wall Street tycoon,î he said. ìThis was right about when the movie ‘Wall Street’ came out, and I thought that looked fun.î He worked as a federal funds broker, mainly with banks and credit unions. ìI just wasn’t good at it,î Dupree said. ìYou had to be very pushy. My boss was very nice and said, ‘You’re just not good at this.’îDupree said his boss made a call to Electronic Data Systems, which offered him a job plus training. ìThey taught you everything they want you to know,î he said. After staying with EDS for 22 years, Dupree switched to Verizon, which was MCI at the time.The switch brought Dupree and his family to Falcon in 2000. While working for Verizon, Dupree also ran a part-time handyman business at night and on the weekends called Dupree’s Home Improvement. ìMy dad had an air conditioning business in Louisiana, and he taught me that if you put your name on (the business), the work better be good,î he said.ìWith the home improvement company, I knew the economy was bad; and, after big jobs, I was worn out. I knew I didn’t want to do this in 10 years.îHaving grown up in Shreveport, La., Dupree was familiar with the Southern Maid Donuts Co. He and his wife, Melva, traveled around the country looking at other stores. ìThat’s when I decided that this was what I wanted to do if I ever got laid off,î he said.After that fateful call from India informing him that he was out of a job, Dupree weighed his options. ìI thought if I go back and get another job, I’m still not going to like it,î he said. Dupree decided to jump in head first with Southern Maid.He was ready to sign the lease on another location off Austin Bluffs and Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs, but the lease was rejected. The Duprees drove around one night looking at other locations. As they were heading back to Falcon, they decided to detour toward Wal-Mart and check out the area. They spotted their current location and ìwithin a weekî they signed a lease, he said.Dupree said he strives to make his shop a family business. His oldest daughter, Helen, lives in Denver and helps when she can. Dupree’s middle child, Heather, ìreally makes everything run,î he said. She works on weekends and three mornings during the week, and then heads to Sand Creek High School. Dupree’s son, Phillip, is a freshman at Sand Creek and works three to four evenings a week. His wife works as a speech assistant so she doesn’t have much time to help, but she has supported him every step of the way, Dupree said.ì(Our kids) like it being a family business,î he said. ìAll of them know how to work, work hard and know that if they want something, they’re going to have to work for the money.îDupree said he relied on his Christian faith to help him make the decision to open his Southern Maid Donut shop. ìI’m a Christian and my faith is very important to me,î he said. ìThe decision to open a store was a very huge step of faith for all of us.î

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