Duane Alan Stecker was born March 27, 1958, at the Buffalo Center Hospital I Buffalo Center, Iowa, the eighth of ten children born to Martin B and Laura (Anderson) Stecker. He was born with a thatch of bright red hair and an infectious smile, both of which he kept for his entire life. As a child, he loved life on the farm, spending hours outside playing with his siblings, watching the cows, pigs, and chickens, riding his bike on the long lane. Finally getting to go to "school" in Bancroft with his first teacher, Miss Trenary, was a big deal for him and he was proud to bring home school papers like his siblings. Later when Exceptional Opportunities was started in Burt, Iowa, he made many more friends through the school program, the social activities, and through the workshop opportunities, they offered. Staff will remember that Duane liked to always be the last one out of the door. Duane loved the staff at EO and had very definite ideas as to which jobs he liked to do best at EO. In 1987 he moved into Titonka with his parents and made more friends, standing on the corner after he got home from EO, greeting all the school kids walking by, pointing out the clock on the bank, and telling them the time. Duane had a special fascination with clocks and time and never found a clock he couldn't adjust or a time he wasn't able to give correctly! Duane especially loved his family, his many nieces and nephews, and any new babies. He loved getting together for holidays, birthdays, opening presents (his and yours!). He cheered for any football team playing against the Vikings (the family's team), but his team was the Cowboys! In 2004, he moved into the EO Duplex in Algona and added more people to his "family", and they would become his best friends for life. There at the Duplex, his life blossomed for him, and he enjoyed the freedom he had never had before. He enjoyed going to "work", even though that sometimes meant he went to work when HE wanted to. After work meant going out to the movies, going out to eat with friends, to the DQ for a favorite Cherry Sundae, or sitting around the fire with friends. Visits with his family were now for weekend visits and Holidays. Life was good for Duane and he thrived! It was only the last few years that health issues began to hinder his ability to live to the fullest, but it was then that his EO friends and staff supported him the most.
In February 2020 Duane moved to Algona Manor Care Center until his return to his Heavenly Home on December 15, 2020. He died of COVID-19 at the age of 62.
Duane is survived by two brothers: James (Gail) of Ocala, Florida; and Robert (Sheila) of Titonka. Five Sisters: Laurie (Jerald) Harms of Titonka; Cathy Walter of Eagan, MN; Rose (Robert) Erickson of Bloomington, MN; Tricia (Dan) Lindstrom of Mankato, MN; and Marly (Todd) Stecker of Spencer, Iowa. Twenty One Nieces and Nephews, many Great Nieces and Nephews, and even some Great-Greats! He is also survived by his EO family on Williams Street and many friends from EO. He was such a loved member of the family and will be deeply missed by all of them. It was in his later years that many of his family truly came to know what a Blessing Duane was in our lives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother Elmer, one sister Cora Hatfield, two brothers-in-law, James Hatfield Sr. and Bruce Walter, one nephew James Hatfield Jr. and one great-nephew Lucus Matthew Harms.
He will be celebrating Christmas with his Heavenly family this year; we can see him smiling now.