Couch, Duane T.
Couch, Duane T.
August 4, 1930 — January 2, 2020
Duane Turnage Couch, 89, Lee's Summit, MO, formerly of Raytown, MO passed away January 2, 2020 at the Veterans Home in Warrensburg. Memorial Services will be held at 11:30am Saturday, January 11, 2020 at Park Lawn Funeral Home, 8251 Hillcrest Rd, Kansas City, Missouri. Graveside Committal with Military Honors: in Green Lawn Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri.
Duane was born August 4,1930 in Hamilton, MO. He grew up in the Brookfield and Linneus Missouri areas where his father (Novie) held various jobs; from car dealer ownership in Brookfield, to County Clerk in the Linn county courthouse in Linneus, MO. His mother (Myrtle) was a stay at home mom and a preacher’s daughter. Duane was the 4th child and youngest member of his family after his brothers, Gerald and Arthur, and his sister Marilyn Beth. Duane graduated with the class of 1948 from Linneus High School in Linneus, MO. Dad always told us kids that he was smart and that he had graduated 5th in his class and we were impressed…but later in life we found out that he was 5th out of a total of 8. Shortly after high school, Duane and high school sweet heart Marilyn Rose Shiflett (who was only 17 at the time) decided to run off to Harrison, Arkansas to get married on August 27, 1950 with Duane’s older sister and husband (Marilyn and Ed Sights) as witnesses. After Duane married Marilyn, they became inseparable and it’s very hard to tell any story about one without including the other.
Duane and Marilyn moved to Kansas City where Duane worked at the GM Fairfax Plant and Marilyn worked in Liberty Mo. at her aunt's cafe. In January 1952, they moved to Biloxi, MS. during the Korean war, while Duane was in the United States Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base as a Radio Operator technician and Morse Code instructor. There they started a family beginning with two boys, Mike born in December 1952 and Doug born in August 1954. After Duane was discharged from the Air Force in December of 1955, the family returned to Kansas City where Duane continued to work for GM but was then shortly transferred to Marshall, MO where they produced their third child, Marty born in March 1957. It wasn’t long until they were transferred again to Independence, MO and in December 1959 Marilyn and Duane finally received the gift of a precious baby girl, Melinda.
After a couple of years they transferred to Topeka, KS where they stayed for eight years. While in Topeka, Duane repossessed cars for GMAC (the finance division of GM) and Marilyn worked for Sears. All of us kids would tell our friends that dad stole cars for a living.
During this time, as the couple were settling into their Topeka home, the older boys were beginning to play sports and Duane became the coach and mentor the kids needed, while Marilyn became a landscaper and gardener extraordinaire which required muscle that only an entire baseball team could provide. Hence the entire yard was plugged with new zoysia grass in a day thanks to the baseball team. In fact, the neighbor across the street was so impressed that they decided they could do better by making their yard an absolute mud pit. Then, the entire family threw zoysia plugs in the air and stomped them down while wearing water skis.
Duane and Marilyn were the team parents and activities directors, so when dad didn’t have his jolly green Giant team playing baseball or traveling to Kansas City in funeral home Hearses to see the Kansas City A’s, then mom had the team scheduled to go peach picking and apple picking which turned into peach and apple throwing wars. The best part of that for Duane was Marilyn’s fresh homemade fruit pies topped with ice cream.
It was in Topeka that dad taught us patience, honesty, hard work and sportsmanship which would help us kids find our way through life and even excel at life.
One of the most memorable moments in Topeka came on June 8th, 1966 as Dad and a few of us older kids watched an F5 Tornado tear through the middle of Topeka until it got close enough for us to head to the basement. Later we would find out the tornado left a destructive path a half mile wide and traversed 22 miles across town killing 16 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
In the spring of 1969, they moved to Raytown, MO, where Marilyn went to work for JC Penny's making friends with everyone she met. As stated earlier Marilyn and Duane had become 2 halves of a whole and it’s very hard to talk about one without talking about the other. At the Raytown home, Marilyn started a great big rose garden that, over time, became infused with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Of course all this was subject to reconfiguration from year to year depending on her mood and the health of her workhorse (Duane). She did have a magic green thumb, as her roses were beautiful and vegetables delicious, as she was an undeniably great cook! Being from the country Marilyn loved to make jelly, preserves and canned a variety of foods. This lead to many trips to the orchards and berry patches when we kids were in our teens. Many food fights ensued in those orchards as Mom alternately laughed then scolded us saying, "they're gonna kick us out of here if you kids don't stop!". Duane’s response to all of this was “Did you bring me home something good to eat?”. Having 3 teen boys, the Couch home was always filled with orneriness and jokes and storytelling. Marilyn, not having much of a since of humor (or pretended not to), always seemed to chuckle. Much of the boys’ orneriness was handed down directly from Duane. He always enjoyed teasing others, especially Marilyn. On one occasion, Marilyn, Duane, and little Melinda had gone to the grocery store. After being explicitly told not to have candy before dinner, Duane snuck off with Melinda, bought a couple of candy bars, and hid in the next aisle, where they ate them. Mom was none too pleased, but still managed to chuckle.
After the move to Raytown in 1969, Duane’s sports coaching career came to an end but the mentoring and technical instructor careers shifted into high gear. As the kids got older, Duane’s focus now was to make sure all the cars stayed functioning and the drivers of said vehicles knew how to keep them running via proper maintenance:
Duane’s Car Rules…
Rule Number 1: If you can’t change the tires you can’t drive it.
Rule Number 2: If you can’t change the spark plugs you can’t drive it.
Rule Number 3: If you can’t find the oil dipstick you can’t drive it because you are a dipstick.
And Last but not least…
The Golden Rule: Never ever borrow dad’s car for a date night and bring it home with an empty gas tank…especially if he’s running late for an early morning meeting.
Duane had high expectations for his boys especially for lawn care and vehicle maintenance. First he would instruct you, secondly he demonstrated the proper method and thirdly if you didn’t get it right… then came the yellin’ and the butt whoopin’.
Duane also gave technical instruction on many other do it yourself topics like electrical, plumbing, woodworking, heating and air conditioning and of course the general ingenuity test which included glue, screws and duct tape.
There are many Duane stories-
Stories about house painting gone wrong.
Stories about snow blowers gone wrong.
Stories about plumbing gone wrong.
Stories about fishing trips gone wrong.
Stories about hunting gone wrong.
Stories about car trips gone wrong.
But, there are mostly stories where everything went exactly perfect.
Soooooooo many stories it would take a life time to tell…those are memories of Duane (our Dad).
Duane liked outdoor sports, especially hunting and fishing. Like all good coaches and mentors do, he taught all his children and grandchildren the art of hunting and fishing. Some of the hunters and fishermen became fairly good at the art and other’s not so much. But after all, it was the hunting and fishing right of passage with our dad and grandfather that was important.
As Duane got older he became known for his favorite sayings or Duaneism’s like:
I’m glad you got to meet me or I’m glad you got to see me.
Just cause you’re hunting a bear don’t mean you should pass up a rabbit.
I’m not old I’ve just been here a long time.
I might have been born yesterday but I didn’t live all day for nothing.
I see, said the blind man, as he ran into the tree.
In 1980, Duane retired from General Motors at age 50. But, that didn’t slow him down as he began working odd jobs for Joe Booth Tow service driving semi trucks, working on cleanup crews for semi truck wrecks and rebuilding Lakeside speedway. After Joe Booth retired, Duane began to work for an old friend Herb Fishman operating a private chain of small Dollar stores. His last job was building and delivering sports trophies for Awards and T-shirts a small business in Raytown.
Duane began to have trouble remembering things and was diagnosed with early signs of dementia in 2013 and Marilyn’s health began to decline as well. The children and grandchildren assisted with Duane and Marilyn’s transition to John Knox Village. Everything was fine for a while…until it wasn’t.
On December 19, 2015 Duane’s heart was broken and the world he knew was shattered when his wife of 65 years Marilyn Rose died. He lived out his remaining years still asking us kids if we had seen mom as he couldn’t remember her passing. But now he can finally be with her again forever.
Duane was a dedicated Christian at the First Baptist Church of Raytown where he was a longtime member. He was active in his Sunday school class and enjoyed all the social functions. Duane had many roles, aside from deeply loving his wife and family, he was a husband, father, grandfather, mentor, coach, instructor, and genuinely loving and caring person, especially to the grandchildren. But above all else Duane would say live your life with honesty and integrity as the Lord would as he knows the things you do and will be the final judge. Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and the kingdom of heaven is yours. Amen.
Duane was preceded in death by his father and mother Novie and Myrtle, his brothers Gerald and Arthur, his sister Marilyn Beth and his wife of 65 years Marilyn Rose. Amen.
Duane and Marilyn leave the legacy of their children: Mike, Marty, Melinda, and their deceased son, Doug; grandchildren: Damien, Marc, Christy, Nick, Brad, Bryan, and Olivia; and great grandchildren: Mia, Alexa, Dax, Jordan, Shane, Chelby, McKenzie, Adrianna, Sierra and Leigha.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to charity of choice.
Memorial Service: 11:30 AM, Saturday, January 11, 2020 at Park Lawn Funeral Home, 8251 Hillcrest Road, Kansas City, Missouri
Graveside Committal with Military Honors: in Green Lawn Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri