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Duke, David, Lee: all will be missed

It has not been a good month for me. In the span of less than a month, I’ve lost three good friends. It’s said that bad news comes in threes.
DeWayne “Duke” Hanson died Dec. 22, Dave Heintz passed away on Thursday, Jan. 11, at Glencoe Regional Health Services Long Term Care facility and my close friend and long-time Chronicle colleague Lee Ostrom died Sunday morning, Jan. 14, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson.
It has been one shock after another, although none of them comes as a surprise. All had serious health problems. But that does not ease the pain or sadness.
The latest to pass away was Lee Ostrom, who was my news room pal for 10 years before he was forced into early retirement in 2013. Parkinson’s disease was the first diagnosis, which later included Lewy Body Dementia as well. It was a difficult way to see an old friend, “the Big Swede,” end his days.
Lee’s wife, Jean, sent me an e-mail on the Monday before his death to say Lee had taken a turn for the worse right after Christmas. Karen and I went to Harmony River that morning to see him for the last time.
Heavily sedated, Lee was unresponsive. But we had an opportunity to talk to Jean and Lee’s hospice nurse, and considering the gravity of the situation, we left knowing he was headed to a better place. Jean confirmed that after his death and said,”now Lee can rest.”
Lee and Dave Heintz knew each other. I was the emissary offering greetings from one to the other whenever I visited with them. They were both confined to wheelchairs and got out rarely. At the end, neither got out of their nursing homes at all.
Dave was a regular letter writer for The Chronicle. His letters were always short and to the point. He often told me his wife, Jo Ann, didn’t like him writing controversial letters and drawing attention to himself, or her.
But Dave felt he had to let people know how he felt on the issues. I encouraged him to write as well. His letters actually provoked a visit from a city elected official one time trying to get him to stop. Didn’t work.
Dave and I used to chuckle over that incident during our weekly visits.
Dave’s passing caught me off guard.
Duke Hanson’s also caught me by surprise. The last time I spoke with him was last fall. I knew he was around if I spotted his familiar convertible driving around or parked somewhere.
One of the first people I met when I arrived in Glencoe in early June 1991 was Duke. He was running around Oak Leaf Park like a mad hatter during Glencoe Days, and seemed to have a microphone in his hand most of the time. I assumed he was in charge, but not sure of what.
I thought at the time he was either possessed or highly motivated. It turned out to be somewhere in between. He was one of the most involved people in the community in the 1990s and early 2000s, and he was tireless in dealing with difficulties, ranging from ornery Glencoe Days carnival people, who complained about everything, to squabbling committee members.
It wasn’t until later that I learned Duke also lived in the Iron Range for a time and obtained that “Ranger” attitude of being direct and to the point. I could relate.
I liked Duke from the start, even though he was a car salesman.
Sadly, time marches on and waits for no one. All three gentlemen will be missed, especially by me.
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014.