Dennis Duden, 80, passed away suddenly on April 28, 2022 doing what he loved - spending time outdoors and helping a friend. Dennis was born on October 10, 1941 to John and Anna (Frerichs) Duden. He was baptized and confirmed at St. John Luthern Church in Royal, IL. Dennis was raised in rural Gifford and later Fithian. He graduated from Oakwood High School in 1959 and remained close to his classmates. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving in Korea. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Marvin, also of Fithian.
He is survived by his wife, Laura Jean Bell, whom he married August 10, 1968. He was a member of Fithian United Methodist Church. While he was known more for his witty zingers than for being a romantic, it was obvious to all how much he loved Jean. Dennis always praised her cooking and referred to her as his bride until the day he died.
Together, they raised their three daughters in his hometown; Christine (Robert) Street of La Canada, CA, Marla (Bruce) Gibson of Belleville, IL, and Debra (Matt) Malick, St. Charles, MO. He was a loving and involved father who attended countless sporting events, coached many softball teams, and spent hours with his girls fishing, raising rabbits and teaching them to live life. He valued a strong work ethic, both of himself and of his girls. He had a ready smile and sharp wit, which no doubt contributed to his many sayings. His favorites included, “there are no weenies in this house,” and “you’ve got to be tough to work construction.” He and his brother, Marvin, owned D&D Construction and spent several decades building custom homes together. In addition to his work ethic, he was known for being highly skilled at building or fixing anything. He had the mind of an engineer and took great pride in doing things right, oftentimes to the frustration of his family, who didn’t always agree that a row of beans needed to be perfectly straight or that a board required quite so many nails. He worked hard and sacrificed mightily for his family.
He retired in 2003 and thoroughly enjoyed this phase of his life. He was the proud Papa to four granddaughters (Abigail, Elise, Anna & Ellie) and two grandsons (Sam & Eli.) In retirement, he passionately pursued his love of shooting. He was a member of several sportsman clubs. His shooting friends became like family, and he spent hours traveling to various events in the region. He was saddened when COVID ended his weekly pool game, as he enjoyed spending time with friends away from the range. It’s difficult to say whether he invested more energy in perfecting his shots or in giving his friends a hard time when he beat them. If you believed his stories, he won most of the time.
His final few years were challenging but still rewarding. After a serious accident, his stubbornness motivated him through a difficult recovery and allowed him to retain more mobility than was expected. He was grateful for the kind and skilled care of the physical therapists at Carle’s In-Patient Rehab unit and the support of his friends and family. He kept his wit and sense of humor despite dealing with significant pain, and he relied on pure grit to stay active because “I can’t just sit here!” In his last conversation, he talked about his love for his wife and said that he “wake[s] up every day and doesn’t take it for granted.”
A visitation will be held on Sunday, May 1 at Freese Funeral Home 302 E. Grand Ave. St. Joseph, IL from 3:00-5:00 pm with a funeral service at Fithian United Methodist Church 101 E Clinton St. Fithian on Monday at 10:30 am. Burial will follow at Stern Cemetery.
Memorials may be made in his honor to Fithian United Methodist Church or St. Joseph Sportsman’s Club.
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