Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory

Duane A. Gray

3/13/1932 - 12/31/2017

PEKIN ~ Duane A. Gray, 85, of Pekin, passed away at 8 a.m. Sunday, December 31, 2017 at his home. 

Born on March 13, 1932 in Spring Lake Township, Tazewell County to Frances Albert “Bert” and Dorothy (Martin) Gray, he married Doris Smith on December 24, 1993.  She survives.

Also surviving are his three daughters, Lori (Kenneth) Dewitt of Snowflake, AZ, Dr. Ronda Mitchell of Decatur, IL, Carla (David) Grandia of Pekin, IL; five grandchildren, Eric (Yara) Dewitt of Lakemoor, IL, Emily Dewitt of Snowflake, AZ, Hannah (Kyleur) McArthur of Middleton, ID, Dr. Stephanie (Dr. Mark Foster) Sea of New Orleans, LA, and Stephen Mitchell of Decatur, IL; five great-grandchildren; three step-children, Susan Malone and Trent Bachman, both of Henry, IL, and Curt Hill of Lacon, IL; four sisters, Wilma Howard, Darlene Fleeharty, Karen Hahn, all of Pekin, and Neva Koestner of East Peoria; and many nieces and nephews. 

He married Beverly Eertmoed in 1959, after his first marriage to Charlotte Litz ended in divorce.  Both are deceased.  He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Lester Gray, Jack Gray, Kenneth Gray, and Gene Gray; and three sisters, Frances Taylor, Grace Cook, and June Harmon.

Duane’s first job was at Excel Brass and Aluminum Foundry, where he completed an apprenticeship course as a journeyman molder and core maker.  In 1951, he was drafted into the U. S. Army during the Korean War, but had a disability discharge in 1952.  In 1953, he started driving stock cars.  Within two years, he was selected as ‘Most Courageous Driver.’  In 2009, he was inducted into the Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club Hall of Fame. 

In 1957, Duane started working for the Pekin Police Department and was eventually promoted to be the Department’s Juvenile Officer.  He resigned in 1974, after being elected as Tazewell County Clerk.  He was elected five times, serving 20 years, until he retired in 1994.  The Republican Party requested he run for Tazewell County Treasurer in 1998.  He was elected three times, serving 12 years, and retiring again in 2010 at the age of 78.  He served a short time on the Tazewell County Board before moving to Mesa, AZ for two years.

Duane owned several businesses in Pekin.  In 1970, he purchased Pekin Rental and sold it in 1979.  In 1982, he opened National Rental and sold it in 1996.  He then purchased Perlman Carpet, selling it later.  He sold real estate in the 1980s.  Duane built his first house by the age of 19, learning the skill from his brothers and brothers-in-law.  By the age of 27, he had built five homes.  During his lifetime, he had built over 50 new homes.

Duane was a member of Second Reformed Church in Pekin, where he previously served as an elder.  He also served on the Pekin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; the Salvation Army Board; Chairman of the Pekin Housing Board; and Trustee on the Cincinnati Township Board.

Duane held a private pilot’s license and owned his own plane until the result of a heart attack, which kept him from flying.

His funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, January 5, 2018 at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin.  Danny Wood, his brother-in-law, will officiate.  Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.  Burial will be at Glendale Memorial Gardens in Pekin.

In lieu of flowers, memorials contributions may be made to Tazewell Animal Protective Society, 100 TAPS Lane, Pekin, IL 61554 or to the charity of the donor’s choice.

To express condolences online, visit www.preston-hanley.com

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