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Life Story / Obituary
A genuine man to know and to love, Duane Buell leaves his family with the wonderful gifts of being a steadfast provider, a strong role model, and an exceptionally committed person to the community he loved. Known for his sincere generosity and always putting others first, Duane would do anything to help others in need. Immensely proud of the family he raised, he treasured the time he spent with each of them. His positive outlook on life and his wonderful sense of humor will be deeply missed by the countless lives he touched.
The 1940’s were a time of great change in America. In 1943, the Pentagon, considered to be the world’s largest office building, was completed, Silly Putty and the Slinky found their way into children’s hands, and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was born. As WWII gripped the nation, Detroit’s automakers, including General Motors, were hard at work manufacturing aircraft engines, artillery shells, and armored vehicles. That same year, Melvin and Reta (Jaseph) Buell were delighted to welcome home their newborn son, Duane, on April 11th, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His birth brought much hope and happiness to challenging times.
Duane was raised in a large family in Kalamazoo where he attended local schools. A quick learner, he received his driver's license at a young age and went to work to help support the family. Proud to be the last graduating class from the downtown location of Kalamazoo Central High School, he had aspirations of serving his country. Surprisingly, he chose to join the United States Air Force despite a fear of flying! While he was stationed near Cleveland, he assisted with security operations as one of his primary duties.
After being discharged, he accepted a position at the General Motors plant on Sprinkle Road in Kalamazoo. Starting out in the tool and die trades, he worked his way up the corporate ladder to eventually become the foreman of his division. He was immensely proud of his forty year career with GM and remained deeply committed. As he declined an early retirement package, the company even required him to do some local community service in order for him to stay on longer. Duane was all too happy to do so as he would surely benefit from working the additional years to provide for his growing family. He was well liked by his coworkers and was known to share a few stories while they kicked back for a drinks after work. Duane had an easy going personality that made him a good leader as well as a great friend. Of course, the true hallmark of great friendships is being given a nickname. Small in stature, “Shorty” became Duane’s and he took it with pride.
Duane met his lovely bride, Mary, at a restaurant in Irons, Michigan that his sister owned. They instantly hit it off and after a short time of dating joined in marriage on April 4, 1970. Together they raised two wonderful children, Dan and Kelly, in the home that he had built himself. As a dad, Duane was actively involved with his kids. He was Cub Scout leader for his Dan’s troop, teaching them how to fish with nothing but a line and a paperclip! Later, they spent time rebuilding his John Deere tractor together sparking Dan’s interest in automotive work. An avid fan of the Detroit Tigers, the family went to several games over the years cheering on their favorite players from the stadium seats. They also enjoyed watching Chevy Chase movies together and cracking up at the comedy-western film, The Apple Dumpling Gang! Whenever they were together there was sure to be plenty of laughter to go around! Despite his dedication to his career, there was no mistaking that Duane took every opportunity to cherish time with his wife and kids.
For the past few years, Duane has been blessed to watch his family grow to include grandchildren. They gave him a new purpose in life as he loved to pick them up from school, take them to their sporting events, or a special favorite; to the movie theater. His grandkids took to calling him Funny Dog because of the voice and dog sounds he made while reading them stories when they were younger. The name stuck for all these years!
Duane was known for his inability to sit still. He loved to keep busy working on several projects at once. Although many projects remained unfinished, he enjoyed tinkering and working around the house. Lonely without Mary, sometimes he simply got in his car for a joyride. Once, he went as far as the tip of Florida and back just for something to do. Duane enjoyed these trips often listening to the news on the radio or greeting strangers with a warm smile and conversation. A fan of CNN, Duane loved a good discussion on local events or politics and was known to be very knowledgeable about history.
Above all, he always had a positive outlook and an uplifting message. Duane believed the shortest distance between two people was laughter and he was always good for a quick joke to lighten the mood! May his friends and family never doubt the remarkable way he loved each one of them. May his memories be eternal, and may his familiar words continue bring comfort; “Love you guys!”
Duane "Shorty" Buell, age 77, died on July 29, 2020. Duane was preceded in death by his wife, Mary; his sisters: Geraldine McNally, Virginia Dennany, Mary Jane Lawson, Shirley Hale, and Beverly Knause. Surviving are his children: Dan (Rachel) Buell and Kelly (Bill) Heine; grandchildren: Kaycie, Alyssa, Megan, Trevor, and Gianna; a brother: Frances (Marge) Buell; and numerous nieces and nephews. A private Life Story gathering will take place with burial at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Duane’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.