Harold Eugene Duke
June 3, 1919 – September 5, 2019
Harold E. Duke June 1919-September 2019
We are Steve and Clay Duke. Harold Duke is our father. We would like to share some highlights of his over 100 years of life.
He was born in Ottumwa, Iowa to Judy and Harry Duke on June 3, 1919. When Dad was preschool age the family, including Madeline his older sister, moved to Hawaii where grandpa Harry’s work with Hormel took him. After about two years they moved to Ventura.
Dad attended Ventura schools including Ventura High School and Ventura Junior College. During this time he met Helen Gillibrand who lived in Simi Valley on a ranch where Dad enjoyed riding horses. Dad attended UC Davis for a year. He and Helen married in 1939. Dad always said that this was the smartest thing he ever did, by far. Shortly after their marriage Dad got a job at the Northrup factory in Los Angeles where in November 1941 the first of us, Clay, was born … in Los Angeles not the factory. After Northrup he joined the forest service in Cuyama for a few years. They then moved back to Ventura living on South Catalina Street.
In May 1944 Dad joined the Army. He saw active duty for 17 months with the 100th Infantry Division (The Century Sons of Bitche) advancing through France and Germany. He was a squadron leader, attained the rank of corporal, and was honorably discharged in April 1946.
Upon returning home he joined his brother-in-law’s nursery business commuting to Santa Barbara. Following this “adventure” he became a carpenter in Ventura and in January 1948 the second of us, Steve, was born.
He received his building contractor license and built several houses, including the one he lived in for 65 years. He was noted for his beautiful cabinetry and made numerous pieces for friends and family. His contractor career was ended suddenly by rheumatoid arthritis with which he and doctors fought desperately for several years. Later in his working life he was a building inspector for Ventura County.
Mom, who preceded him in death, and Dad were wonderful parents. They enjoyed fun times with family and many dear friends over the years. Travel to many places both in the US and abroad were exciting for them. Overall, they had a full and happy life.
Special thanks go to the able staff at CalVet nursing homes in Ventura and West Los Angeles and VITAS hospice care for their dedicated caregiving during Dad’s final months and days.
Besides the two of us, Dad leaves two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. The family held a 100th birthday celebration at CalVet in June. Included was a buffet lunch and a surprise Dixieland jazz band performance. Mom and Dad were big fans of jazz especially Dixieland. He thoroughly enjoyed the three hour event and it left very happy memories for all of the family.
We will miss you Dad!