In Memoriam: Duane LeTourneau, Faculty Emeritus

Wednesday, June 12 2013


Duane John LeTourneau, 86, of Moscow, Idaho died June 3, 2013. Duane attended the University of Minnesota where he received a B.S. in agricultural biochemistry in 1948, an M.S. in botany in 1951 and a doctorate in plant physiology with a minor in agricultural biochemistry in 1954. He served in the
U.S. Army Air Force in 1945.

Duane met Phyllis Jean Kaercher at the University of Minnesota in 1943. They were married June 22, 1947, at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. They moved to Moscow, Idaho in 1953.

At the University of Idaho, Duane served as a professor of biochemistry, adviser and committee member for M.S. and Ph.D. students, and acting and assistant department head. He taught undergraduate and graduate students and was an adviser to many. He was known as "Doc" to his students and members of FarmHouse Fraternity and received the UI Outstanding Faculty Award. He retired from the university as Faculty Secretary in December 1991.

As a plant biologist, Duane conducted extensive research projects, and many of his works were published. Duane completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the USDA Research Laboratory in Peoria, Ill., and was a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England, and a visiting scientist at the National Research Council in Saskatoon, Canada. Duane was a member of Danforth Associates and many other professional and honorary organizations.

He was a member of the FarmHouse Fraternity at the University of Minnesota and a founder and advisor to the FarmHouse Fraternity at the UI from 1955 to 2010. He held several positions on the National FarmHouse Fraternity Board and received the "Master Builder of Men Award" from FarmHouse Fraternity International. On April 11, 2011, he was presented with the first annual Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award by FarmHouse International, named for him.

He was a driving force in the renovation of the original Moscow High School building and development of the 1912 Center, now used for community events and the home of Friendly Neighbors Senior Center. Duane served on the Board of Trustees of Gritman Memorial Hospital for 40 years and the Duane LeTourneau Healing Garden was installed outside the Main Street entrance to Gritman in gratitude for his contributions.

He served on the Idaho State Historical Society Board of Trustees, Idaho Academy of Science, UI Arboretum Associates, Latah County Historical Society Board, Moscow Chamber of Commerce, Gritman Hospital, Friendly Neighbors Senior Citizens, the University of Idaho Retirees Association and a number of other organizations. He held service positions and received awards in Lions Club locally and Lions Club International.

Duane was an active member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, previously our Saviors Lutheran Church, from the time of his arrival in Moscow in 1953. He served on the church council as a member, council president, adult Sunday school moderator/teacher, and served in many ways through the years.

For more than 27 years, Duane and his wife, Phyllis, supported 42 recipients of the Ella Olesen scholarship for young women from the Isle of Man. Together, Duane and Phyllis received a number of community awards for their years of service to the university and community. Memorials to them can be found on benches in Moscow's Friendship Square and the UI Shattuck Arboretum. They received the "Idaho Treasure Award" for 1998 from the UI Retirees Association. Memorial trees on the UI campus and FarmHouse Fraternity grounds were planted to honor their contributions.

He is survived by son Bruce LeTourneau (Sonia) of McCallen, Texas; daughter Diane Helton (Randy) of Nampa, Idaho; son Keith LeTourneau (Barbara) of Leadville, Colorado; and grandchildren Kimberly Ann LeTourneau, Ashley Kay LeTourneau Hanavan (Ron), and Lauren Nicole LeTourneau. His beloved wife of 64 years, Phyllis, died in April 2011.

Memorials are suggested to the LeTourneau Legacy Building Campaign, in care of Idaho FarmHouse Club, PO Box 3765, Moscow, ID 83843 or Duane LeTourneau Scholarship in Biochemistry and Nutrition; the LeTourneau FarmHouse Scholarship; the John and Olga LeTourneau Lectureship in Plant Biochemistry, all through the University of Idaho Foundation at 443147, Moscow, ID 83843-3147; or to an organization of the donor's choice.

A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church with a reception to follow at the Moscow 1912 Center. A private committal and urn placement will precede the service at the Moscow Cemetery.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Short's Funeral Chapel