March 25, 1930 ~ November 20, 2019
Murile Eugene “Duke” LeDoux, of Fargo, ND, age 89, passed away peacefully on November 20th, 2019, in the care of Bethany On 42nd and Hospice.
Murile was born in Casselton , ND, on March 25th, 1930, to Ellen Christine Anderson and Maynard LeDoux. Sadly, his mother passed away 6 days later due to complications from childbirth. It was soon decided that Murile would be adopted and raised by his paternal grandparents, Eugene and Victoria Mae LeDoux, who had recently moved to the Tower City area to farm. Throughout his life, Murile, later on to be to be nick-named “Duke”, knew them only as Dad and Mom. The family remained in the area until the mid-1930’s, when the Depression forced them to pack up their belongings and a few cattle and move to Swanville, MN. Duke graduated from high school there in 1947 and then attended Brainerd, MN Junior College before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1948.
He served four years in the army with the post-World War II U.S. occupation forces, mostly in Germany, He truly enjoyed all aspects of the military, the structure, discipline, teamwork and camaraderie, eventually achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. One of the highlights of his time in Europe was competing in the All-Armed Forces European track meet in 1951, where he earned medals in the 440 yard dash (1st) Mile Relay (2nd) and Discus (2nd).
Duke considered a career in the military but was drawn back home to Minnesota in 1952, finding work hauling coal for a lumberyard for 85 cents an hour. Not long after that, while stopping in Fargo as he was taking his parents to Canada to visit relatives, he saw an ad in the paper that Fargo was hiring firefighters. He said,“Being pretty good at math, I realized that the $234 per month starting firefighter’s pay was $9 more than the manager’s pay at the lumberyard”. He also figured the structure of the Fire Department was military-like, which appealed to him. So, he applied for and got the job with the Fargo Fire Department, remaining there for a record 47 years, his last five as Chief. He often said his was a noble profession, as most would agree, and he said he enjoyed every work day in those 47 years. It wasn’t too long after he started working for the fire department that he married the love of his life, Bernice Catherine Vosen, of Pierz, MN. They would raise their family of 6 children in Fargo and remain happily married for nearly 60 years until Bernice’s passing in 2012. As parents, they were undeniably a great team, each bringing different skills and strengths to perform that important “job”.
When Duke wasn’t working as a firefighter he was, well, usually working. He held three jobs until he made Captain at the Fire Department. After that his spare time mostly consisted of more work—home repairs, including electrical, carpentry (plumbing only if he had to) and general maintenance, whether at his Fargo homes or lake home on Lake Seven, near Vergas, MN, or the homes of other family and friends. His family would call these activities “Duke Aerobics”. He enjoyed all of this, but still managed to coach baseball in the summer and make most of his kid’s other sporting events and other extracurriculars as well, and later on those of his grandkids. He would also teach his boys to hunt birds and deer ethically and safely, though they admit he was the best shot.
As a husband, father and grandfather, his family agrees that they hit the jackpot, as it were. He was honest and fair and did not suffer those who weren’t, but he was also loving towards, devoted to, and and concerned for his family’s well-being and happiness right up to his final days. He would give great advice to those who asked for it, but he was just as good at letting them figure it out on their own, if he felt that was the better way for them to learn. The only people he truly disliked were bullies, some of whom had the displeasure of realizing that. He kept his wonderful sense of humor until those last days also, and, if he teased you, you knew it was because he liked you, and it was never mean or divisive.
In the last years of his life, Duke encountered multiple medical problems that would have taken, or at the very least depressed, someone without his love of and desire for life, but, as he often said, they were better than the “alternative”. Yet, in the early hours of November 20th, 2019, that “alternative” came and we, his family, can’t help but believe that, realizing there was a better place waiting for him, he had changed his mind.
Duke is survived by his daughter Jeanne Lavelle, his sons and their spouses, Mike (Mikki) LeDoux, Bill (Kathy) LeDoux, Jim (Val) LeDoux, Dan (Chrissie) LeDoux, Jeff (Becky) LeDoux , his other “son” Steve (Jane ) Conlin, his 17 grandchildren, 5 grandsons-in-law (soon to be 2 more) 9 great-grandchildren (soon to be 1 more) his sisters-in-law Jeanne Luff, Margaret Vosen and families, special friend Lillian Foss, family friends Muff (Linda) Brandt and Frosty, and many nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Bernice, her parents, his parents and grandparents, his sisters Barbara Swenson and Eva LeDoux, son-in-law Jamie (Jeanne) Lavelle, brothers-in-law Harvey, Juni, Frank and Bobby Vosen, Terry Luff, and sisters-in-law Addie (Harvey) and
Lorraine (Bobby) Vosen,
The LeDoux family would like to Thank the many caring people at Touchmark at Harwood Groves, Duke’s residence for the last 5 years, as well as the staff at Bethany On 42nd and Hospice, who cared for him during his final few weeks. We also give special Thanks for the friendship and spiritual guidance provided in the many visits to Dad by all the Pastors and Stephen Minister Paul Lubbers from Hope Lutheran Church, Fargo.
PS—If anybody knows the whereabouts of Herman Schwartz and Gloria Snodgrass, please tell them to save Duke a seat at “the tavern”.