Duane Lee Dye, “a Nebraskan Cornhusker” of Fillmore, Calif. passed away at the age of 85 on September 19, 2018.
Duane was born to Mildred and Ralph Dye on September 23, 1932 in Stanton, Nebraska. He was raised on the family farm, along with his sister Carol, near Pilger, Neb., and that farm remains in the family today. Growing up in Nebraska always held a special place in Duane’s heart, even though he left Nebraska for California in 1957.
When Duane was 17 years old, he contracted polio, which swept through the Midwest. Ultimately, leaving the cold and difficult weather that Nebraska offered was what Duane needed.
His determination allowed him to champion the physical difficulties that the polio presented, and after attaining his college degree in Accounting, he left Nebraska for California.
When he arrived in California, he took a job at Wayside Honor Farm in Castaic, working as a supervisor within the Accounting Department. At the same time he was working at the Honor Farm, he was developing income tax clientele. These connections ultimately led to him starting his own insurance agency, Duane Dye Insurance, in Newhall. The area of Newhall was a community of only 15,000 people, and it was on the cusp of great growth. Duane Dye Insurance is still a vibrant insurance agency in the Santa Clarita Valley today.
Duane married his wife Linda in August of 1965, taking on not only a wife, but a wife with three children, named Lori, Luanne and Larry. Duane and Linda added another sibling, Jef, to the family in 1968.
Between running a business and raising a family, Duane was an active member of the Newhall Rotary Club and a member of the Baha’i Faith. His devotion to his faith helped to guide him through his life and his commitment to Rotary was the foundation of his many years of community service to the Santa Clarita Valley. His greatest desire was to help the world through Rotary International, by making people aware of the need to eradicate polio throughout the world. He helped raise awareness of the issue through the Rotary Polio Plus program. Duane and Linda, through contributions and fundraising, were responsible for inoculating approximately 88,000 individuals throughout the world with the polio vaccine.
Not only did Duane devote his life to serving his community, he devoted much of his time to one of his favorite hobbies: collecting vintage cars.
“One of Duane’s favorite hobbies was his collection of old Chryslers,” said Jef Dye. “Including a 1964 300k convertible he drove in the summers, (a) 1963 Imperial and a 1965 Crown that the family jokingly named, ‘The Pimp Mobile.’ He loved driving each of them, and it did not matter where he and Linda went, there was always someone who flagged them down and commented on how impressed they were with the vehicle. He took impeccable care of each of them, with the help of some great mechanics.”
Until just a year ago, Duane remained active in Rotary, even while dealing with many health complications caused by advancing age and his physical challenges. Duane’s fellow Rotarians were greatly affected by his life.
“Duane Dye was one of a kind,” Connie Ragen Green said. “He mentored me as a new Rotarian, sharing his insight on topics I had no experience with and introducing me to people in the Club and the community who would go on to help me personally and professionally. He also took an interest in me as a human being and truly cared about my welfare, and for that I am eternally grateful to have known him.”
Santa Clarita Rotary Club President Tom Cole expressed his appreciation for Duane.
“Our Rotary Club family was truly sorry to hear of the loss of Duane Dye,” said Cole. “His community service spirit will always be with us locally and internationally. Duane’s passion for our End Polio Now campaign was near and dear to all our hearts. Duane will always remind me of one of our Rotary sacred creeds, ‘Service above Self.’ He will be truly missed, but the memories and our Rotary Club of SCV will continue to serve in his honor.”
“I have been associated and friends with Duane and Linda for over 50 years, as he and I were in the same business of different fields. In the 32 years Duane and I have shared Rotary, He has been an attentive supporter of RI and our Foundation, often leading our charge to raise funds and contributing to our programs.,” said Jim Lentini.
The recent months were indeed very difficult for Duane, and he bore the burden in a stoic and determined fashion.
“I have never met a person who was as thoughtful as Duane was, and the courage he had to attend the meetings with his physical condition, for all the years I’ve been in Rotary, was a testament to how much he cared about Rotary. Rest in peace, Duane,” Dave Reeves said.
Steve Colf added, “Duane always acknowledged our great granddaughter, Heather, with respect and encouragement. Heather had started a little business at our ranch and donated all the proceeds to Polio Plus. Duane made sure she was aware of the importance of her gift.”
Upon his death, Duane was surrounded by his family and loved ones. Duane touched and affected all those he met through his example of courage, determination, humility, patience and compassion for others. His wise counsel and ability to listen was extraordinary and impactful. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Duane will be buried in a private family graveside service, and a celebration of his life is being planned for the near future. In lieu of flowers, Duane’s family encourages contributions to the Rotary End Polio Now program in Duane’s name at the web site https://www.endpolio.org/donate.