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Duane Whittaker

September 20, 1951 ~ March 22, 2022 (age 70)


Duane Whittaker,70, passed away peacefully on March 22, 2022, his family by his side. Born September 20, 1951 in Rhinebeck to Irene (Milroy) and Ralph Whittaker, Duane was a lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley. After graduating from Rhinebeck Central School in 1969, he received a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University in 1973 where he was recruited to play Division I soccer.  After college, Duane worked in sales and marketing for several firms in New Jersey and New York, including WEOK radio station.  He transitioned to a career as an electrician in the 1980’s, working on projects ranging from large corporate and commercial installations to countless residences.

On September 8, 1991, Duane married Patricia Decker, and they raised their son, Ian.

Duane enriched his community through his volunteer work as a member of several organizations, including his   lifelong membership in the Sons of the American Legion, Legion Post #429, and membership in the Rhinebeck Lions Club. He also enthusiastically coached many children’s basketball and baseball teams.

Affectionately known as Whit, he pursued many interests. His music abilities began as a drummer with the Rhinebeck Fife and Drum Corps.  Into his teen years, he picked up guitar, and together with high school friends, he formed The Eighth Wonder, a popular, local band in the 1960’s. 

Duane mastered and embraced many sports. He played a key role on the undefeated 1969 Jacksonville University soccer team. As a freshman, he started every game, and became known as “The Rock,” for anchoring the team’s record setting defense. In later years, he was a standout player on the Championship B-Division and Conference Winner Kingston Men’s League basketball team sponsored by Johnny O’s Landscaping. Tales of these champions are still retold by teammates and admiring athletes. He was an avid golfer and member of the Dinsmore Golf League for more than 30 years, participating in both the Ticonderoga Annual Classic and the Tarry Brae Open tournaments each season.  He was a member of many Rhinebeck and Red Hook town baseball teams, relished the challenge of downhill skiing with his family, and thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of fly fishing.  Duane looked forward to annual golf junkets with his buddies, fly fishing vacations, stockcar races, and an occasional Daytona 500!  He was a connoisseur of spare ribs, fruit pies, and cold beers, all best enjoyed while reminiscing with old friends about good times and growing up in Rhinebeck.

Whit was old school – his handshake as good as his word.  Talented and trustworthy, he would appear at the door, no matter the day or time, when customers or friends called with a problem.  Generous and well-respected for his expertise, even in his waning months, he was a model of perseverance and determination as he continued to finish projects for his clients. 

Duane treasured lifelong friendships and was a shining light that drew others in, warming every conversation with his insights, sharp wit, and humorous anecdotes.  He will forever be remembered for his charm, compassionate spirit, and loyalty.  For those who knew and loved Whit, the very mention of his name brings a broad smile.

Duane was predeceased by his parents, Irene and Ralph.

He is survived by his wife, Patty, and son, Ian, sister, Lynn (Michael) Edwards, of Williamsburg, VA, and brothers, David (Holly), of Scottsdale, AZ, and Keith, of Williamsburg, mother-in-law, Barbara Decker, of Red Hook, many brothers-in-laws, sisters-in-laws, nephews and nieces and numerous friends and colleagues whose lives he touched.

Calling hours will be held at Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home, 51 W. Market Street, Rhinebeck, NY on Sunday, April 3rd from 2pm to 5 pm.  To sign the online register please visit

Family would greatly appreciate memorial donations in honor of Duane to the American Legion Post #429, P.O. Box 429, Rhinebeck, NY, 12572

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Duane Whittaker, please visit our floral store.


Calling Hours
April 3, 2022

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Dapson Chestney Funeral Home
51 West Market St PO Box 515
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

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