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1931 Duane 2024

Duane Graham

August 1, 1931 — January 16, 2024

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Duane Graham passed away January 16, 2024 at the age of 92.  He was born in El Dorado, Kansas to Ira and Louise Graham on Aug. 1, 1931.

Duane grew up in El Dorado, the older brother of 3 sisters. In his autobiography, he told many fun stories of growing up in a small town.  To say he had an ornery streak would not be much of an exaggeration.  He graduated Eldorado High school in 1949, attended a year of college at Butler County Community College and pursued what would be his lifelong passion of the arts by attending the Kansas City Art Institute. 

While attending school, he met and fell in love with Nettie Belle Parsons.  They were married in 1955 and were together for 62 years, raising 4 daughters, traveling the world and becoming pillars of their community.  They were inseparable until her death in 2017 and he deeply missed her every day since. 

After getting married, Duane worked for Boeing in Wichita as a draftsman.  It was there that he worked with Boeing and NASA on the Saturn 5 rocket booster for the Apollo Missions.  In 1967, Duane took a job at Excel Industries in Hesston as a draftsman and later became Director of Engineering. Among his many accomplishments, he was instrumental in ushering in computer aided design and manufacturing to the growing company.   

While engineering and technology put food on the table, Duane exercised his artistic talents with his many interests and hobbies. He illustrated several books, including one on Hesston history.  He corroborated with a poet friend to create three books where Duane supplied his photographs to go along with the poetry . He painted with watercolor, oil, and acrylics.  His artwork not only adorns the homes of friends and family, but in 2019, some of his work was sold publicly in an exhibition/fundraiser for CASA.   Duane also loved photography and music of all kinds.  For years he combined his photographs with music and presented the shows for different audiences. He redefined the term slide show into a true work of art, entertaining everyone who saw them.

Duane and Nettie were very active in the Hesston community, always volunteering to help when needed.  In 1977, they organized the Hesston Fall festival. In 1975, the community sponsored and helped Vietnam refugees get established in America.  Duane and Nettie personally sponsored 3 of those families.  They were also very active as leaders and board members at Hesston’s United Methodist Church as well as First Presbyterian Church of Newton.  Duane was a board member and spent years volunteering with the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains.   Outside of Hesston, he volunteered with Sedgwick County Zoo for years.  And in retirement, Duane spent 19 years volunteering with CASA of Harvey County, as a court appointed special advocate providing a voice for abused and neglected children.


Duane loved to travel in the US and various places around the world.  He enjoyed backpacking and organized many trips with his friends as well as youth Sunday school classes that he taught. He and Nettie visited many national parks across the country, including Hawaii and Alaska.  His most cherished trip was when he ventured to Africa in 2007 on a photography safari with his daughter, Emily.  The trip had a profound effect on him and left him with many stories to tell and photos to show. 


Duane was an avid storyteller.  He captivated those around him with his many experiences, and with his knowledge of everything from civil war history to art to technology.  He was interesting and informative.  But more often, he entertained and made people laugh. He was a true Renaissance man. He will be greatly missed.

Survived in death: daughters Rebecca Troyer (Dean), Emily Sims (Mark), Katie Gaeddert, Sarah Bauer (Kris), Sisters, Janice Shaffer (Malcolm), Joyce Stuttherheim (Robert), Judy McCluskey (Keith), Brother- in-law Hugh Long.  Grandchildren,  Madeline, Sophia, Tess, Graham, Hunter, Luke, Keely, Mitch, Jefferson, Kent, Rachel, Beau. Great grandchildren, Cavin, Benjamin and one arriving soon. 

 Preceded in death:  parents Ira and Louise Graham, wife Nettie, daughter Natalie, in-laws Malcolm Shaffer, Guy and Cleta Parsons, Ruth and Cecil Wright, Marjorie and Don Gfeller, Mary Long. 


A memorial has been established with CASA, PO Box 687, Newton, KS 67114.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Duane Graham, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, February 4, 2024

1:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

Petersen Family Funeral Home

215 N Main St, Newton, KS 67114

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Memorial Service

Monday, February 5, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

First Presbyterian Church

900 Columbus Ave, Newton, KS 67114

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Graveside Service

Monday, February 5, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Pleasant Center Cemetery

NW Ohio Street Rd, Burns, KS 66840

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