Duane Lee Hall, born Oct. 11, 1924, passed away on Oct. 2, 2013, in Middletown, CT, just shy of his 89th birthday.
Duane was born in Belle Plaine, KS, to Mildred Fern (Russell) and Lee Emmet Hall. The family moved to the Los Angeles, CA, area during his early elementary years and eventually settled in Glendale. He attended school in the area through high school, and at age 18 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He was 16 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and he remembered exactly where he was when he heard about it: listening to the radio at his home. He immediately wanted to enlist, but his parents would not allow it so he had to wait until he was old enough.
Duane went through school and training to become an aerial and radio gunner flying in B-17 and B-26's, and had received his papers to ship out overseas when the war suddenly ended. Duane developed deep friendships with all of his crew members and kept up with all of them throughout the years. He had story after story to tell about some of the things that happened to him during these years as he went from Yuma, AZ, to Sioux Falls, SD, to Gulfport, MS, to Avon Park, FL, on his crew assignments.
After leaving the Army Air Corps he attended Glendale College and then eventually Occidental College where he graduated with a teaching degree. During his college years he spent many hours at the Hollywood Palladium listening to the great Big Band leaders live. He moved to Honolulu, Hawai'i for his first teaching job at a salary of $200 per month where, between working and surfing, he fell in love with his wife, Phyllis Mae Howsley.
They returned to the states in 1951 to be married and settled in the San Diego area. From that union came 5 children and 6 grandchildren. In 1960 the family returned to Hawai'i on a teaching exchange and lived there for one year. His love affair with Hawai'i continued from then on. Duane and Phyllis were married for 55 years when Phyllis passed on. She was the love of his life and he was devoted to her.
Duane led a remarkable life. Living through the Great Depression and his years in the military gave his family amazing stories to listen to, and he loved to tell them. He spent over 30 years teaching elementary school in Hawai'i, and at Casa deOro and Spring Valley Elementary School in the San Diego area. In his retirement years he volunteered in Arizona, Idaho and Arkansas in several elementary schools. The kids loved him and he truly enjoyed being around them.
Duane joined the Air Force Reserves and spent many years being a “weekend warrior” at March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA. as part of the 452nd Air Refueling Wing. He retired from the Reserves at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Duane considered it one of the greatest honors of his life to serve his country and if they would have allowed it, he would have remained active for life. He also worked for Equifax as an insurance investigator part-time. Duane returned to San Diego State University and received his Masters Degree in the midst of raising his family. His love of all things Hawaiian never ceased, and he enjoyed going to the activities of the Hui O Hawai’i of San Diego. Duane also co-authored a book “Aerial Gunners: The Unknown Aces of WWII” with his friend Charles Watry. He enjoyed woodworking, building model airplanes, surfing, reading western novels, ice cream and spending time with his family and friends.
Duane was an amazing son, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Raising 5 kids on a teacher’s salary and working two other jobs could not have been easy, yet he always had time for all of his kids. He would take us along when he worked on weekends, or to Handyman while he picked up items to make repairs on the house. Everywhere we went, our father would talk, talk, talk to anyone and everyone. After all of the kids were raised he had the special privilege of helping to raise his granddaughter Tiffany. He was the most personable guy anyone could ever meet, with a smile that lit up a room, and he would give you the shirt off of his back if he felt you needed it. Rarely was an unkind word ever heard from his mouth. There are very few people in this world that would be able to hold a candle to our father and grandfather.
Duane is survived by a son, Phillip Hall of Santee, CA; a daughter, Valerie Manecke of Middletown, CT, and her daughters Carly and Rachel; a son, Steven Hall and his wife, Ellyn Ritchotte of Marysville, WA, and their children Emyly, Eryn and Lee; a son, Jeffree Hall of Sebastopol, CA; a daughter, Laurie Hall of Fayetteville, AR, and her daughter and son-in-law Tiffany Hall-Scarmana and Christopher Scarmana; several grand-nephews and a grand-niece, and his oldest and dearest friend, David Watry of San Diego. He adored all of his grandchildren and his grandson-in-law. Duane was affectionately known as Dad, Pops, Grandpa, Pappy, Paps, the Papster, and Poppi.
The family would like to thank the staff at Wadsworth Glen Health Care and Rehabilitation Center in Middletown, CT, for their tender, loving, exceptional care of Duane over the last 3½ years.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a local humane society or animal shelter in Duane’s honor.
Interment will be held at a later date at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA.