Yesterday we said goodbye to Duane Puckett, one of the best and most honorable men I know. I don’t know if Duane was ever a Boy Scout, but he lived all of the principles of the Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Though in his case, reverent would be first. Duane was a quiet man with a rock-solid Christian faith that shaped the way he lived. He was unassuming and modest about his accomplishments which were many. He was a listener, a servant, a friend.
Duane lived next door to my parents in Emerald Bay for over thirty years, and I’ve known him more than half my life. Duane and Daddy had something special. They were two years apart in age and on the surface didn’t have a lot in common except golf. But both were thoughtful, patriotic men who interrupted their college years to serve our country during and just after World War II. They married, had children, and planned out their careers in completely different types of work. They were both active in Emerald Bay after they retired, and both served as club presidents in different years. For at least 10 years if not longer, Duane and Daddy had a visit on the back porch late in the afternoon. They talked golf and politics and family, Bible study, kids, and travels, and the challenges and rewards of caring for wives with long-term medical conditions.
When I moved to Texas, I was also included in some of those visits, but mostly it was just the guys. My dad told me about a year before he died that I should take care of Duane when he was gone, because Duane would need me, and that I would find him to be the most discreet person in Emerald Bay. He was. After Daddy was gone, I picked up the visits next door at least every other day if not more often, and I joked that the “Cone of Silence” came down as I entered the house. I so appreciated having a place to talk out some stress from trying to live, worship, and work in the same small community. We continued to visit frequently by phone after I moved two years ago, and I talked to him and his daughter while he was in the hospital and in hospice care just before he died.
His funeral yesterday was very powerful, and I was so glad my brother and sister-in-law were there with me. Duane was practically a member of our family; we needed to be there to say goodbye. The Navy presented military honors and a flag to the family, which is always something special. The many veterans seated around us were in tears during that and other parts of the service. They were also friends of my father, and it was bittersweet to see them for what will probably be the last time.
Thank you, Duane, for your friendship and your leadership by example. I loved having you as a part of my life, but take comfort in knowing you are in Paradise, reunited with your beloved Betty and playing a round of golf as a foursome with Mom and Dad.
Rest in peace. May your memory be for a blessing.