WHATELY - Robert M. Duda, 74,
passed away February 26, 2017 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA
after a brief illness. Bob was born on October 1, 1942 in Greenfield, MA. He
grew up in the Town of Whately, MA and graduated from Frontier Regional High
School in 1960 and the University of Massachusetts in 1964 where he earned a
Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration.
After graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force
and applied for Officer Candidate School where he was commissioned as a 2nd
Lieutenant. His first assignment was as a munitions officer in Germany and,
when the Vietnam War escalated, he was sent to Korat, Thailand. Bob left active
duty in 1969 to earn his Master's Degree in Business Administration at the
University of Massachusetts, then worked as a consultant for various companies.
In the mid 1970's, he joined the 104th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard
full time in Westfield, MA. During his military career he received the
Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf
Clusters, the National Defense Medal, the Air Force Longevity Service Award,
the Vietnam Service and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. In 1996, Bob retired from
the 104th Fighter Wing as the Support Group Commander with the rank of
Lieutenant Colonel completing 32 years of military service.
Bob was proud of his Lithuanian
heritage and, upon retirement from the Air National Guard, he began fulfilling
the needs of the Lithuanian people by undertaking numerous mercy projects. This
included soliciting clothes and school supplies and sending them to children's
orphanages in Kaunas. With the help and encouragement of his companion, Ginger
Houghton, they solicited medical supplies and equipment, to include nine
heart-lung bypass machines, which resulted in the establishment of the Kaunas
Heart Center, now the leading heart center in Lithuania.
Bob was an avid reader and a military
history enthusiast and possessed a wealth of knowledge of the Civil War. His
other local interest was being a Trustee of the S. White Dickinson Library in
the Town of Whately where he served as Board Chairman successfully leading many
infrastructure improvement projects. Bob was a member of the Hale-Clapp VFW
Post 3295 and the Polish American Citizens Club, both in South Deerfield.
Bob is survived by his life-long
companion, Ginger Houghton of Schenectady, New York, a brother Gerald and wife
Judith of Agawam, MA and a great nephew, Ethan Duda of Florida. He was
predeceased by his mother Mary (Koloski), father John and nephew Todd Duda.
A funeral service will be held on
Friday, March 3rd at 11:00 am at the Wrisley Funeral Home, 90 Sugarloaf Street,
South Deerfield, MA. Calling hours are Thursday, March 2nd from 4:00 pm to 7:00
p.m. A Military burial will be held at the St. Stanislaus Cemetery, South
Deerfield, MA in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations may
be made to Hale-Clapp Post 3295, 67 North Main Street, South Deerfield, MA
01373. Expressions of sympathy available at www.wrisleyfuneralhome.com. - See