Don Duca, 85 years old, finally truly retired today. Donnie passed away early Sunday morning, June 11, 2023, from complications of Alzheimer's and long-standing kidney disease.
Don met his best friend and soul mate Sue, at Fort Howard. They were engaged in Switzerland in February 1999 and married in Mountain, on August 21, 1999. We have 2 furry children "Drake and Remi". They were our children and are the highlight of our lives.
Don was born February 5, 1938, at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay to the late Sylvia (Plinske) and Gilbert Duca. He was the second oldest of 5 children. He attended St. Peter and Paul Grade School and went on to East High School. He also attended the old, Catholic Central High School for a year. After a very colorful high school career, he graduated in 1957, much to the thrill of his teachers. Don was a member of a great group of very close friends in high school that kept in contact through most of their adult lives. After graduating high school, Don joined the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1957 to 1961, mostly in the Pacific theatre, and was honorably discharged. This was one of his greatest achievements. He continued to be involved with the Marines into civilian life as a member of the American Legion color guard, Post 44, Wabeno, and he also was a member of the Marine Corps Alumni Organization of Crandon. He was always proud to be a Marine while in the service and a former Marine in civilian life. Don always said he had 2 birthdays, his and November 10, the Marine Corps birthday.
Don began his career of almost 40 years at Fort Howard Paper Company in 1961. He spent most of his career in the machine shop as a machinist. He also was part of the corporate grinding crew for over 30 years. Boy, the stories that could be told about those escapades on the road. The last 5 years of his career were spent grinding Yankee dryers across the United States for Fort Howard then Fort James and finally, Georgia Pacific. As a member of the grinding crew, they worked hard, and they played even harder. The entire crew was notorious for having a reputation in and outside of work. You know who you are! Don regretfully, retired in June of 2000 and began several more careers after retiring.
After retiring in 2000, Don took several part-time jobs to "keep busy". He worked for Wagner Gas dispatcher and then as a valet and security guard at Potawatomi Northern Lights Casino. He even waited tables at Karla's restaurant. In between working, which was the highlight of his life, he loved working in the yard and around the house. He always had multiple projects in progress. He was a die-hard coupon shopper. Shopping was his greatest pastime. Don loved to boat and swim on Boot and Bass Lake in the summer, and snowmobile and ski in the winter. A great deal of time was spent with our family around the fire pit. It was a year-round gathering place and held many, very happy memories. Don's true love was his 2004 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. He loved to ride motorcycle all his life and he finally got his Harley. We took many motorcycle trips including Sturgis.
Don's accomplishments and activities were many. He worked at the Christian Thrift store, was involved in the Holy Name Society, was a communion minister, and on the picnic committee at St. Mary's church for several years. Don also had a way with people and anyone who knew him will certainly miss him. Our home was an outlet and haven for the neighbors, kids, dogs, birds, bunnies, deer, coyotes, bear, turkeys, and horses. We had a special love for them all. Don was affectionately known as Uncle Donnie to the dozen "adopted kids" that frequented our home. Don became a Challenge Academy mentor to Jordan, and confirmation sponsor to Ty two of our special kids, of which he was very, honored. There were some special friends and neighbors that always contributed to the chaotic fun at our house. Terry and Julie, Jody and Jay, and Carla all have created a multitude of special memories. They are all members of our special extended family. I have no words for how grateful I am for all of them taking care of Don while I could not be there. We would not have survived without our awesome Townsend family. Great times will never be forgotten, and they will have stories to share forever. Thank you for sharing yourselves and families with us.
Don is survived by his wife, Sue, who is his soul mate and best friend. He is also survived by our furry kids Drake and Remi. Stepdaughter, Melissa (Mike) Presley, Apple Valley, MN; granddaughter Calysta Campbell, Green Bay; step-grandmother, Helen Collins; uncle, Steve Summersett, Nampa, ID; daughter, Patty (Randy) Buth, Denmark; grandson, Nick Buth; great-granddaughters Rachael and Payson, Denmark; grandson, Nathan (Ona) Buth; great-grandchildren Maddy and Brody; granddaughter, Sarah (Justin) Therwachter, Green Bay; son, Steve (Lisa) Duca, Townsend; granddaughter, Amanda (Nick) Priessler and great-grandchildren, Alex (Erica) Duca, Green Bay; granddaughter, Emilie Hujet, and great-grandchildren, Green Bay; and grandson, Jordan Duca, Racine.
Don is also survived by nephews, John (Barb) Duca and Jed (Kelly) Duca and family; niece, Debbie (Mark) Harwick and families; sisters, Janice Withbroe and families, and Judy Duca, Green Bay; brother-in-law, Jack (Jeanne) Herlache and families. He is also survived by an additional stepchild, his wife and great step-grandson. He is also fortunate to be survived by some very close friends, and we cherish their love and support, you know who you are. He is also survived by hundreds of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Don was preceded in death by 3 of his furry children Duch, Dunkel and Zeta Duca; his mother and father Sylvia and Gilbert Duca; youngest son, Jim Duca; former wife, Carolyn Duca; brothers, Jackie and Bobby Duca; father and mother-in-law, Dick and Dorothy Collins; brother-in-law, Jim Collins; and nephew, David Duca.
There are an exceptional group of people at Woodland Village Nursing Home that have taken their passion for their jobs and have extended that into a love for my Honey Darling Donnie. Jenny became his full-time girlfriend, she kept him occupied, fed him his daily snacks and of course Pepsi, and cleaned up after him as well. How she got any work done is beyond me. Sarah, Deb, Tina, Lynetta, Neesha and countless others who all put up with his antics, retrieved him from trying to escape innumerable times, picked him up after he got done inspecting the floor, helped him find his truck, or not. These special people have opened their hearts and cared for this special man. Thank you is such an inadequate word, but I am so appreciative for all they have done. I love you all.
At Don's request there will not be a funeral but instead will be a celebration of his oh so colorful life. Donnie was always the life of any party when he was with us, and this will be his final party for all of us to remember him. No more will he be falling down, waiting to get help up, or getting lost, or hitting his head, or just making us laugh. His celebration will be Sunday, June 18, 2023, at Bradley Funeral Home, Antigo, WI with visitation from 11am to 1pm. Service to follow. The Wabeno American Legion will provide Military Honors at the funeral home immediately following the service. He will be interred on Monday, June 19 at 11 a.m. at the Nicolet Mausoleum, Bay Settlement Road, Green Bay, close to his parents and son. Come and join us for his send-off party. He always had a smile and a story so come with yours.
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Antigo, WI 54409
Antigo, WI 54409
RIP dear friend, you will be missed by many, for your great sense of humor, and the laughter you could bring to others.
You will be missed Duca! We have many memories of the enjoyable times spent with you on the grind team! Steve & Jessie Chada