OBITUARY

Beatrice Chaco Duke

March 7, 1927January 22, 2021
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Beatrice “Bea” Rivera Chaco Duke, formerly of Nimitz Beach, Agat, and resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, died Jan. 22 at the age of 93. A retired Chamorro Language and Culture teacher, she was the wife of the late Thomas E. Duke, former SGTMAJ of the U.S. Marine Barracks on Guam, and former director of the Guam Department of Corrections and Criminal Justice Planning Agency. The viewing and last respects will be held at Palm Mortuary at 7600 S Eastern Ave., from 4:30 PM to 8 PM, PST, on Feb. 22. Funeral Mass will be held at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 5485 E Charleston Blvd., on Feb. 23 at 11 AM with interment to follow at 1:20 PM at the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery in Boulder City. Due to the pandemic, public health guidelines are requested to be followed.

Services

  • Visitation

    Monday, February 22, 2021

  • Reception

    Monday, February 22, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

  • Committal Service

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Memories

Beatrice Chaco Duke

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Millie Andersen

February 24, 2021

Rest In Peace with God, Auntie Bea. Thank you for loving me, for being my buddy, my partner, my best friend. For laughing out loud with me, and getting crazy, and peeing in our pants because we are having so much fun together. I love you like my momma! ❤️🙏🏼💞🥰

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Biography

Beatrice Rivera Chaco Duke, affectionately known as Bea, Mama Bea, Mema, Grams and GGMA, was born on Guam on March 7, 1927, to Antonio Quintanilla Chaco and Milagro Delgado Rivera Chaco. Named after her sister Beatriz, who died in early childhood, she was the youngest of 12 children. Over the years, Beatriz preferred a different spelling to her name and legally changed it to Beatrice.

Bea grew up on Guam during a time of the China Clipper, the influence of a westernized U.S. Naval government on the indigenous Chamoru culture, and the Japanese occupation during World War II. These events, and the experiences they brought, made Bea a strong, independent, feisty, determined, and inquisitive woman. At the age of 14, Bea, along with her parents and siblings, was among those who suffered under the Japanese Imperial Forces that occupied Guam and much of the Pacific at the onset of World War II in 1941. During this time, she was forced to work in rice fields and runway construction sites on island. The recapture and liberation of Guam by the U.S. Marines in 1944 was a blessing for Bea, for she was among those who experienced the brutality and hardships of war and survived.

During post-war reconstruction, Bea returned to school, graduating from George Washington High School. She attended the Guam Territorial College, pursuing studies that would lead to the start of her teaching career. Bea was also business-minded and opened a small store for her mother, Nana, to tend and occupy her time while she was teaching. It was at the store that Bea met the man of her dreams—a young, handsome combat veteran and U.S. Marine in uniform.

Private First Class Thomas E. Duke began a courtship and eventually received the blessings from his mother to marry this lovely island girl. They married and began to raise a family. Tom was eventually deployed to combat duty in the Korean War, leaving Bea with two children to care for until his return. Upon his return, and during the course of a few years, two more children were added to the family. In 1958, the family was transferred to California, introducing Bea to her first residency stateside. It was here that two more children were born, bringing their brood's total to six. This new duty station began their relocation to many others during the course of Tom's military career. Bea adapted well to the role of military wife and found time to join their women's bowling leagues, to create ceramics at the base workshops, and to take advantage of whatever Special Services had to offer in the way of classes and crafts.

Over the span of their military life, Tom served two additional combat tours in Vietnam and left Bea to attend to household affairs and six children during his deployment. As always, she had the strength to carry on without complaint. When Tom finally retired as a SGTMAJ from the Marines, he was offered a position with the Government of Guam, which provided Bea and him the opportunity to return to the beloved island of Guam in 1975. There they built their home, and Bea returned to her favorite occupation: teaching. She returned to the University of Guam, sharpened her teaching skills, and soon began her new role as a curriculum writer and Chamoru Language and Culture teacher at Agat Elementary School. She used her talents, also, by volunteering to teach at the Operation New Life camp built for Vietnamese refugees to assist them in transitioning to a new life in America at the end of the Vietnam war.

While on Guam, Bea and Tom traveled to the islands of Micronesia, the Marianas, and the Philippines. Bea was fortunate, also, to make an outing to the tropical paradise of Bali in Indonesia, traveling throughout the island. After many years on Guam and Bea's teaching career coming to a close, Tom and Bea decided to return to the state of Washington for their retirement years. Once settled back in Washington, Bea and Tom continued to travel throughout the United States, Canada, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Europe on pilgrimages to Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; and the Vatican and Rome, Italy. It was during their visit that they personally met Pope John Paul II, receiving his blessings and rosary gifts. As Catholics, this was one of the highlights of their lives. Subsequently, when the cold weather in Washington began to affect them, Bea and Tom made one final move, settling in the warmer climate of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Throughout her life, Bea was a devoted wife and mother, but she never sacrificed her independence as a woman. She did things her way and was always involved with family and friends as a social being. Bea had many loves including singing and participated in Kantan Chamorrita performances on island, as well as church choirs. She loved to cook and bake and made fantastic bread. She loved sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, and flower arranging, taking a class in Ikebana. She loved the outdoors, gardening, grunion hunting, and catching crabs under a full moon.

Bea lived a full life and shared nearly six decades of marriage with Tom before his passing in 2007. Together, they had six children, 18 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. As her children, Tom, Patty, Ric, +Jim, Linda, Cindy, and sons-in-law Bob, Brian, and Ed, we are grateful to have had Mama Bea as an incredible example of kindness, humility, charity, sacrifice, and strength. Through her Catholic faith, she taught us about the virtue of forgiveness and love, and in believing in ourselves that all things are possible. She was our refuge during our times of trouble and anxieties in life. In addition, she loved and embraced her siblings' children as if they were her own. In return, they, too, loved and embraced her.

Beatrice Chaco Duke passed away quietly at home surrounded by her family on January 22, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 93. We will all share in missing her smile, laughter, her worldly advice, and her caring and humorous personality. As a collective family, we honor her memory; a cherished memory that will remain in all of us throughout the years. She will be sorely missed by those of us that knew and loved her.

May she rest in peace, and together with husband Tom, son Jim, granddaughter Erica, and departed familia, may she find eternal joy in God's Heavenly Kingdom.