Duane Stanley Austin, 93 years young, passed away in his sleep on June 8th 2020, at Eastern Plumas Health Center, Skilled Nursing Facility. The family would sincerely like to thank Lorraine Noble and her staff for the tender loving care they have given Duane and continue to give Bobbie.
Duane was born in Whittier, CA, to Bernice C. Durham and Walter Stanley Austin. The family moved to Feather Falls and Gridley, CA. Duane met his life partner, Barbara (Bobbie) Jean Walker, while they attended Gridley High School. Bobbie was living with her Grandparents in Gridley.
Duane’s mother moved to Grants Pass, OR, to live with her parents but Duane wanted to finish his Senior Year of High School in Gridley. He arranged to live in a boarding house. During his years in Gridley he worked on local farms.
Bobbie and Duane 1st wed on May 18th 1944 but the marriage was annulled. On September 24th 1944 they wed a 2nd time in Carson City, NV.
In December of 1944, Duane enlisted in the Army Air Corp to become a pilot. After basic training, as he was on his way to Chicago, Ill. and Pilot training, when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The Air Corp (USAF) no longer had use for more pilots so Duane was transported to Foggia, Italy, where he joined other US Troops ‘Guarding’ the German Prisoners of War. At the camp, there were 2 positions available: Officer Escort (Driver) and Transport Scheduler/Guard. Duane’s buddy, became the Driver and Duane the Scheduler/Guard. The Germans did not really need much ‘guarding’ as they didn’t want to escape. Duane has told a story of the prisoners and guards building a race track and competing in events. Duane and his buddy accompanied their Captain on trips around Italy. When they were given leave, they were given the choice of Switzerland or Paris. Duane chose Switzerland. Most of the other guards chose Paris and returned to camp with a social disease.
When Duane returned home to Beal AFB for discharge, he found himself on a Gibson bus for Gridley but no way to let his bride know when he would arrive. But Bobbie knew when every bus was due to arrive from Beal and she met everyone until one night, when Duane stepped off the bus and ran into her out stretched arms.
They moved to San Francisco where Duane went to work for Graybar Electric. Then a move to Oakland where Duane and Bob Sheehan started a washing machine service company working out of Duane’s basement. That was the beginning of a long and successful business career.
In addition to a successful businessman, Duane realized his long-ago desire to fly and got his Private Pilot License. Never really retired, Duane and Bobbie moved to Placerville, CA. Duane became an avid golfer and President of the Cold Springs Golf & Country Club. Duane got his Contractor’s License, designed and physically built their 2 homes, 6 other homes and a strip mall. Duane used his talent as a wood crafter to make the cabinets and furniture for their homes. Bobbie and Duane fulfilled their longtime desire to return to Plumas County and settled in Graeagle, where Duane, a member of NCGA, was remembered as having a great time with his fellow golfers playing in the 70s or 80s with a handicap of 10 to 15. They moved to Quincy in 2012 where Duane continued his golfing, furniture making and gardening.
Duane belonged to the BPOE, the Shriner’s and was a Master Mason.
September 24th 2019, Bobbie and Duane celebrated their 75th Wedding Anniversary. On May 18th 2020 they celebrated the 76th Anniversary of their 1st marriage.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Carol Jean Smith Rossi.
Duane is survived by his wife of 75/76 years, Bobbie, and their daughters Cathleen (Cathy) Elizabeth Austin (Jerry Lee Larsen), Turner, OR; Gail Jean Austin, Quincy; CA and Lori Lynn Austin (Rodney W. Powell), Quincy, CA; 6 Grandchildren, 9 Great Grandchildren, sister, Mary Austin Robbins, Westchester, CA; Niece, Pari Rossi, Placerville, CA.
Friends may contact the Manni Funeral Home, Portola, CA, 530-832-4673, Mannifuneralhome1@gmail.com for further information. In lieu of flowers, you may consider a donation to the Plumas County Museum, 530-283-6320, Quincy, CA, or Mount Huff Golf Course, 530-284-6300, Greenville, CA.