Duke J. Durfee

Navy Badge
  • Name: Duke J. Durfee
  • Location of Birth: Kane County, Illinois
  • Date of Birth: February 14, 1924
  • Date of Death: March 9, 2012 (88 years old)
  • Parents: Duke Stevens Durfee and Grace (Blazey) Durfee
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  • College: Purdue University
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  • Branch: Navy
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  • Military Highlights:
    Duke enlisted in the United States Navy in January, 1943. He served in the North Atlantic and Pacific Theaters on the Destroyer USS Eberle.

  • Wars Involved:
    World War II

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  • Civilian Life:
    Duke grew up Wheaton, Illinois and entered Purdue University in the fall of 1942 on a football scholarship. He returned to Purdue University in 1946.

    From 1949 to 1956, Duke managed family farms in DePage County, Illinois.

    Joining Caterpillar Tractor Company in 1956, he served as Field Engineer in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1957-1961 and as East African District Representative in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1963 he established one of the earliest Deere and Company Construction Equipment dealerships in North Mankato, Minnesota.

    Active in the industry, he served as President of Deere's Industrial Dealer Association, Minnesota Land Improvement Contractors and founding member of the Board of Directors of the Construction Management course at Mankato State University.

    Duke had a lifelong love of flying. In retirement he volunteered with Angel Flight of South Florida, which arranges free air transport for charitable needs.

    He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley (Harris) Durfee; daughter Barbara Phillips; sons Duke H. and Brian; and his sister Jane Skinner.

    Duke died in Naples, Florida. No funeral service was held.

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