The daughter of the star of a short-lived Alaska reality TV show has returned to her Minnesota home fearing she will never again see her father alive.
Her father – 78-year-old Duane Ose – is expected to be discharged from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital sometime in the next few days. Ose arrived there Tuesday night in a rescue helicopter that plucked him from his one-time wilderness hideaway about 100 miles south of the Central Alaska city.
Rena died during heart surgery early this year. Duane met another woman online not long after, flew to Fairbanks to meet her, and there married again.
Afterward, he and the much younger new wife – who the Ose family worries is only after Duane’s money – decided to take back the place Duane named “Ose Mountain” and moved in.
Things did not go so well.
An Alaska pilot who arrived at the cabin early on Tuesday to deliver supplies to Ose and the new Mrs. Ose, formerly Ellie Mae Blair and before that Elanor Ribera and before that Eleanor White, discovered a very ill Duane on a cot and was told by Ellie that he’d fallen out of bed 10 days earlier and broken his back.
As it turned out, his daughter Carol Hansen said by telephone from back home in Minnesota today, he had not broken his back but was suffering from dehydration and a bladder infection.
Hansen was in Fairbanks when her father arrived there and visited with him late Tuesday at the hospital.
“He looked like death to me,” she said. “It was awful.”
Given Duane’s history of health problems – he is a cancer survivor and has suffered a previous heart attack – Hansen had hoped to talk her father into returning to Minnesota to be closer to family and better health care.
She quickly realized that was a waste of time.
“He wanted me to know Ellie saved his life,” she said. “He told me she kept the fire going and fed him.”
He then went on to explain how Ellie Mae had served two presidents, worked in Peru to save thousands of poor people, and aided the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“He told me the CIA is still watching her,” Hansen said.
There is no evidence to support these claims. But Hansen said she could see no point in trying to talk Duane out of his beliefs. It appeared to her he is overwhelminlgy in love.
“Dad said everyone has been so mean to her,” Hansen said.
Attempts to reach Duane or Ellie Mae, who are reported to have married in Fairbanks in September, have gone nowhere.
Duane’s Facebook page, where Duane or Ellie Mae were publicly feuding with family members in September and posting regular religious messages into the start of October, has gone silent.
The author of several books, Duane once posted regularly on both his own Facebook page and that of Ose Mountain Alaska, a page managed by his brother’s daughter.
The page was largely dedicated to promoting Duane’s book and the Alaska homestead he pioneered with Rena near Lake Minchumina just north of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Shortly after Ellie Mae entered the picture, Duane accused the family of stealing the Ose Mountain page from him in an attempt to get his money. The tone of the messages on his own page also changed rather significantly at that time.
“Rena’s Spirit will forever be opening and closing these doors,” Duane posted on June 23 from Minnesota. “One day she will be welcoming me home, hugging me and pulling me in, handing me a hot slice of buttered fresh baked bread.”
He was then living back in Minnesota, his home state. He took off for Alaska after Ellie Mae suggested they meet there. His family did not approve and relationships quickly ruptured.
“OMG I can hear the sheeple going ‘Baaah, baaah…” someone posted on Duane’s personal page on Sept. 17 shortly after the marriage was revealed. “you should seen her swim this morning…80 laps n i increased my pushups to 5 sets of 50…She is sooo good for me…and my health.”
The post was accompanied by a glamorous photo of a younger Ellie Mae.
Hansen is convinced she got a chance to meet with her father at Fairbanks Memorial only because Ellie Mae had also been flown out of Ose Mountain with unknown injuries and was a patient in another room.
Hansen said she spent about an hour in her father’s room after an Alaska State Trooper came out. The trooper had been there to talk to Ose about invading the house now owned by a couple in England.
“I stood for a while next to him,” Hansen said. “He asked if I was Ellie.”
When she said no, Duane who is blind in one eye was said to have opened his good eye and asked “How did you get here?”
After Hansen explained she’d flown in to see him, he quickly launched into an explanation of how he’d fallen out of bed the first night at Ose Mountain, broken his back and been saved by Ellie Mae.
The story continued into his recounting of her work for presidents and more.
“He did say she has a split personality,” Hansen said, “and has a temper…She can yell at him.
“He said that he thought I didn’t care about him, and I’d left him.”
Hansen has never lived in Alaska. She saw her father only occasionally after he left Minnesota in the mid-1980s to make a life in the wilderness. He and Rena proved highly adept at the tough task of surviving in the Alaska bush.
He father, she said, seemed somewhat confused. When a hospital official came into his room asking for an address and telephone number to put on paperwork, “he seemed frustrated because he couldn’t remember it,” she said.
“He told me he had a lot of anger toward a lot of people,” she added, most of it aimed at people he thought were trying to break up his relationship with Ellie Mae.
The couple, according to what Hansen said Duane told her, now plan “to hire three people to help them take care of” Ose Mountain when they again return. Hansen does not think troopers will let her father and Ellie Mae again invade a house owned by others.
But the couple has nowhere else to go other than the Fairbanks Holiday Express where they had been staying before leaving for Ose Mountain. Hansen said she did not talk to Ellie Mae.
“Out in the hall, she was wheeled past the room in a bed,” Hansen said. “She was rattling like a crazy person. While we waited for the doctor to bring results in, I could hear her yelling she wanted to get her computer.
“A nurse came in and got it.”
Shortly after that a doctor visited to tell Duane, he had a severe bladder infection and that X-rays showed only three, old, compressed discs in his lower back, something not uncommon in old men. The doctor told him he would probably benefit from regular visits to a physical therapist, Hansen said.
She said Duane then revealed he’d given Ellie Mae a $10,000 diamond ring although “she bought it before they met.” And that Ellie Mae had convinced him they could “create a new legacy bigger than Ose Mountain” to raise money and help the worlds needy.
Hansen said she just sat and listened.
“There was nothing I could do,” she said. “He thinks everybody is his enemy.”
When she returned to the hospital on Wednesday to see her dad again, Hansen said she was told he wasn’t accepting visitors. When she called him, he answered the phone and hung up.
“Now Ellie’s his only visitor,” she said.
Feeling there was nothing else she could do, Hansen booked a flight back to Minnesota.
“I went to Alaska. I got my answers. I got to see my dad face to face,” Hansen said. “She’s pretty much put her spell on him.
“It doesn’t take all but five minutes with him to figure that out.”
Friends who knew Duane and Rena in Fairbanks have said much the same. The elderly couple had in their last years taken to wintering in the city becuase of the difficulty old people face in keeping a woodstove stoked well enough to heat a three-story cabin at 40- or 50-degrees-below-zero.
Peggy Billingsley, an old friend of Rena and Duane, called the situation now “absolutely disgusting.” Like others, she fears Duane is being taken advantage of and that there doesn’t appear to be anything anyone can do about it.