Founder of The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg passes away

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Donut Friar founder Carolyn Ryan stands outside the store in The Village in Gatlinburg. Photo: The Donut Friar/Facebook

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Donut Friar, the last original shop at The Village in Gatlinburg, has announced the passing of founder Carolyn Ryan.

According to a social media post, Carolyn and James Ryan moved their family of 7 to Gatlinburg in 1969 to start the Donut Friar in the Village. The historic sweet shop was the first shop to open at the European-style shopping village and is the only original store to still stand today.

She became a well-known face behind the counter of the donut shop as Gatlinburg grew into a popular regional tourism destination, where she worked until she was 89 years old.

“She was sweet, generous and kind to her family, friends and customers. Her legacy will live on.”

The Donut Friar

In June, the shop announced that the original Donut Friar sign had been stolen from the side of the building. The sign that was stolen was the original one put up 50 years ago and was repainted around 10 years ago.

The logo was created by a family friend and acclaimed artist Jim Gray who died in 2019. His art gallery is still open in Gatlinburg.

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