Melvin Duane Larson was born on May 20, 1937 in Hamilton to Melvin and Mary Larson. Duane passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loved ones, after a short, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on May 23, 2019.
He grew up in Great Falls, Seattle and Athol, Idaho. He graduated from Spirit Lake High School in 1954 as valedictorian of his class. He married Beverly Von Wald on June 28, 1954 in Athol. They enjoyed a beautiful marriage of 64 years until his recent passing. Duane and Beverly were blessed with three children: Darrell (deceased in 2016) and wife Pamela from Cheney, Washington, Tim (Chelsea), Kelly (Dale) both living in Kalispell; and four grandchildren, Kyle of Portland, Ore., Claire of Helena, Paul and wife Brandy of Nashville, Tenn., Richard and wife Haley of Kalispell; and great-grandchildren, Jude, Kila, Kendall, Oliver, and Clint.
Duane was preceded in death by his son, Darrell; his parents, Melvin and Mary; sister, Darlene; in-laws, George and Maxine Von Wald; and brother in-law, Tom Von Wald; as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins and many good friends.
Duane held many different jobs throughout his life, mostly two or three at a time. He worked at Jet Oil, Anaconda Aluminum, Kaiser Aluminum, Sears and Allstate Insurance. His real love and passion, though, was found in his career as a firefighter. Duane began as an Evergreen volunteer firefighter and, shortly after, joined the Kalispell Fire Department. He eventually retired as Fire Chief in 1988. During that time, he taught many classes locally, statewide, as well as several fire safety classes outside the state. He attended the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland nine times for further training.
After retiring from Kalispell Fire Department, Duane worked at A&A Transport as the safety officer and bookkeeper.
Duane was also incredibly active and generous with his time in the community. He served on the Kalispell City Council for 23 years, was on the City County Health Department Board for 22 years, contributed to the Community Health Board for nearly 10 years as well as the Central School Museum Board for 10 years, just to name a few. He was also active at Northridge Lutheran Church. He lived a life of generosity and believed in acts of service with all of his heart.
Duane’s hobbies included raising tropical fish, collecting stamps and coins, gardening and spending quality time with his friends and family. He was also a prolific Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy master.
Duane touched the lives of many and will be greatly missed by all, especially his wife, Beverly, who will continue to carry on their legacy of community service and unconditional love for all.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on May 28 at Northridge Lutheran Church with a reception to follow. Buffalo Hills Funeral Home is caring for the family. Memorials may be given to Northridge Lutheran Church or to the charity of your choice.