Daniel Joseph Duerst, an extraordinarily kind and patient husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend, as well as a passionate golfer, card player (especially with his buddies on Wednesdays), gardener, deck builder, lover of Buicks and a good dancer, played his last hand and passed away peacefully surrounded by dozens of loving family members after a short but truly courageous battle with lung cancer on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.
He was only 72…far too young to be sent on his next journey. He was born on Feb. 8, 1945, and was later joined by three brothers and two sisters. “Danny” was the ultimate big brother to the rest of his siblings: David, Debbie, Darrell, Dora and Dean. Even though he sometimes had to play the role of enforcer to his younger brothers and sisters, he was always looked up to for his patience and kindness. He was a favorite of his cousins, as well, especially Vangie, whose daughter, Rita named her horse after Danny.
Dan graduated from Madison West High School in 1962 and then proudly served our country with honor in the U.S. Army and National Guard. While working as a bouncer at Rusty’s, he met the first love of his life, Susie. Soon he joined the ranks of fatherhood with the birth of Stephanie in 1967 and Stacy in 1970. He was a supportive and caring father, using sternness sparingly and only with a helping of patience and love.
Dan spent a short time working at Graber (Springs Window Fashions) before landing a job at Flad & Associates, where he was introduced to the art of printing. This led him to a job at Straus Printing, a place he always recalled dearly. Dan was proud of opening his own business, Reprographics.
The family spent many weekends at their cabin on Lake Nokomis in Tomahawk, sharing time with family and friends on the pontoon boat, sitting around the fire pit or enjoying dinner and drinks at The Bull & The Beaver, Schafer’s Wharf or Ed Bessie’s. The cabin also gave Dan plenty of opportunities to build, fix and generally putz with stuff. In between printing jobs,
Dan ventured into the life of a travelling salesman, selling handball/racquetball courts from coast to coast. He travelled to every state in the lower 48, and also managed to get to Alaska and Hawaii, accomplishing a feat that few people will ever do. He later worked for Stanton & Lee on a project involving famed wildlife artist Owen Gromme.
Dan worked directly with Owen and his wife on prints and a book containing many of the artist’s works. He later worked for his future son-in-law, Mike Couey at Heartland Litho (Newsletter Press). About this time he met Mary Gritzmacher, and they began a long and loving life together until her recent passing. They enjoyed travelling (including Antarctica), golfing, gambling, gardening, canning and, most of all, hosting their many friends and family members. There was always plenty of room on Dan’s deck in Windsor, one of many “landing-strip-sized” decks he constructed over the years for himself and his loved ones. He was fortunate to finish out his career doing what he loved most, spending eight years mowing, planting, fixing and putzing for Edgewood College. He even managed to sneak in a college class, studying trees, of course. He was proud to get an “A,” meaning he scored a perfect 4.0 during his college career. In his final days he was able to make some final trips to Ho-Chunk and spent plenty of time enjoying the presence of his family and friends.
Dan is survived by his daughters, Stephanie (Todd) Franklin and Stacy (Mike) Couey. When Dan and Mary married, he added more children to his family: daughter, Jodi (Troy) Nolden; son, Jeff (Maricel); grandchildren, Justin and Logan Couey and Taylor Franklin, Austin (Emma) Nolden and Keith (Rachel) Nolden and Miranda and Emma Reyes; brothers, Darrell (Debbie) and Dean (Nancy); sister, Debbie (John) Johnson; sister-in-law, Peggy (Wayne) Soehnlein; brother-in-law, Jim (Sherry) Soehnlein; nieces and nephews, Christine (Greg) Dodson and their children, Carrie Kaminski, Lyndsay Johnson (Kevin), Cody and Halley Johnson, Nick (Natalie) Duerst and their children, Jennifer Duerst (Derrick) and her child, Sarah Stokes (Jesse Noble), and Jacob, Marley and Reggie Duerst. He is also survived by Dawn Cherek and her children, Carli and Cierra; and his guardian angel, Mickey Thome-Neitzel. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary; his first wife, Susie (Everson); parents, Wally and Imelda “Mel” (Daniels) Duerst; brother, David; sister, Dora (Mike) Stokes; and nephew, Benjamin Duerst.
A Celebration of Dan’s life will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, at 1 p.m., on Saturday, Sept 16, 2017. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Saturday.
Whether you knew him as Danny, Dano, papa or grandpa or grandfather-sir, Dan will always be remembered as a kind, patient, caring and funny man. The family would like to thank the wonderful staff from Agrace Hospice, especially Heidi, Teresa and Meaghan.