Duane Earl Spyker
Duane Earl Spyker died surrounded by family at his home in Ingersoll Township, Midland County on February 12, 2017 at the age of 85. His death was due to complications from cancer.
Duane was born February 22, 1931 to the late Earl and Nancy (Booth) Spyker in the very home where he passed away. He was the middle of three children having an older sister, Dorris Catlin, and a younger brother, A. Allen Spyker. Both predeceased him. Duane met the love of his life while attending Midland High School. Wilma Lucille Retherford became his wife on March 25, 1950. They spent 67 years together. She survives him. Together they raised six children; Daniel Spyker of Detroit, Jon (Darlene) Spyker of Freeland, Julie (Al) Paulus of Bay Village, Ohio, David (Pam) Spyker, of Bay City, Brian (Sandra) Spyker, of Sanford, and Nancy (Kirk) Hall, of Midland. Arata Watanabe, originally from Tokyo, Japan, now of Alpharetta, Georgia, became a lifelong member of the family when he needed a place to spend the holiday break while attending Northwood University in 1972. In addition to their children, Duane and Wilma have 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren, with 3 more on the way.
Duane’s boyhood farm in Ingersoll Township was the center of his life and he shared many stories of his days as a young boy on the farm when horses were still the main source of power. One story told of a time about the age of ten when he was dragging ground with a four horse hitch and they bolted on him. He said it was all he could do to force them to run in a circle until they eventually tired themselves out and were brought back under control. Then he sorted things out and resumed working ground.
Duane attended the Laporte School and then Midland High School, graduating in 1949. While at Midland High he developed his love for music, singing in the choir and playing violin in the orchestra. He was also very involved in the Midland High Chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). His membership culminated with a trip to Kansas City, Missouri where he sang as a member of the FFA National Chorus during the 1949 FFA National Convention.
Duane was employed by the Dow Chemical Company for over 30 years, retiring from the Boiler Shop as a Multi-Trade Craftsman in 1985. Farming was always a large part of his life and his attachment to the land never diminished. He was also an avid builder and woodworker and pursued those interests well into his 80’s. His love for music is well known and as his farming activity decreased, his involvement in musical endeavors increased. He was the driving force for many years behind the music programs offered at Freeland United Methodist Church and organized and conducted an orchestra at the church for many years. Duane never felt too old to learn new skills and while he was in his 70’s his love of music led him to enroll in classes at Saginaw Valley University to learn how to compose and conduct music for orchestra and choir. He was also a patient and enthusiastic teacher of the violin and other stringed instruments, offering lessons to students of all ages. Those who knew him will not be surprised to learn that, upon meeting the hospice nurse who would be caring for him in his final days, he found a way to turn the conversation to music and whether she played an instrument. When she replied that she did not he asked, “Would you like to learn to play the violin?” That was Duane. Never give up, never stop working.
Honoring Duane’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Services will be held at the Freeland United Methodist Church on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017 with visitation from 1-3 p.m., and a memorial service beginning at 3 p.m. Following the service a light supper will be provided. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Saginaw Rescue Mission or The Midland Salvation Army. Arrangements by the Cunningham/Taylor Funeral Homes, Inc., 310 E. Washington St., Freeland, MI 48623-0362