Duane L. Kenaga

March 9, 1920 ~ May 22, 2020 (age 100)


Duane L. Kenaga, age 100 of Midland, passed away peacefully Friday, May 22, 2020 at Kings Daughters Home. The son of the late Harold E. and Alice C. (Bunting) Kenaga was born March 9, 1920 in Midland. Beginning at a very early age, Duane developed a strong sense of honor and courage that would last a lifetime and serve as an inspiration to his family, friends and all who knew him. After his father died when he was 13, when his mother did not know how to drive, he took the wheel, and drove his mother from Cadillac to Detroit in their Model A.  This is a perfect example of how Duane always took responsibility and rose to any challenge.  He was a 1938 graduate of Cadillac High School, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1943.    Upon graduation he joined the United States Navy, serving his country honorably during WWII, first training at Midshipmen School, at Notre Dame.  After the war he served in the Naval Reserve until 1955. He married Bernice A. Hill on July 3, 1944, with whom he would have four children.  Bernice passed away in 1982.  After leaving the Navy he returned to the University of Michigan earning his BS and then Master’s Degree in Wood Technology.    He then went to work for Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL until moving back to Midland in 1951. Duane began working for the Dow Chemical Company in 1951 and retired in 1982 after 31 years of service. While at Dow Chemical, he held 17 U.S. patents and several foreign patents in the paper area while working in research and development. On March 5, 1983, Duane married E. Joann Bailey. After 33 years of marriage, she preceded him in death on July 7, 2016.


Duane was a member of many technical societies including, the Forest Products Research Society where he was chairman of the Great Lakes section in 1966, the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, the Society of Wood Science and Technology and the American Chemical Society.


He was a devout member of First United Methodist Church in Midland for 79 years. Duane was also President of the local chapter of AARP where he was a valued member, and he felt privileged to serve the Midland community in countless other capacities. 


Duane was fond of nature, with some of his favorite hobbies being hiking, birding, hunting, fishing, and photography.  Much of the time these hobbies were done at his beloved Upper Peninsula cottage. Duane and Joann enjoyed traveling the world, visiting all seven continents and sharing slide presentations with friends and many organizations.  He was a member of the Midland Nature Club where he was President for 3 years. Duane served as District Commissioner and District Chairman of the Chippewa District, Paul Bunyan Council with the Boy Scouts of America. He received the Silver Beaver Award along with many other recognitions.


Duane is survived by his sister, Marian (Carl) Ritter of Petoskey; son, Lawrence  (Carol) Kenaga of Kalamazoo; daughters, Diane (Thomas) Brighton of Hastings and Linda (Douglas) Hubbard of Traverse City; step-sons, Dennis Kenaga of Lansing, and David (Marilyn) Kenaga of McKinney, TX; step daughter, Marcia Davis of Louisville, KY; 15 grandchildren, many great grandchildren and several loving nieces and nephews.


In addition to his parents, Duane was preceded in death by his first wife, Bernice A. Hill; his second wife, E. Joann Bailey; son, Charles Kenaga; and brother, Clare (Doris) Kenaga.


Per Duane’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A service to celebrate his life will take place once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Inurnment will be next to his wife Joann in Midland City Cemetery. Memorial contributions in Duane’s name may be offered to Kings Daughters Home or the First United Methodist Church in Midland. Arrangements are under the care of the Wilson MILLER Funeral Home. Personal messages of condolence may be left for the family at

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First United Methodist Church
315 W. Larkin St., Midland MI 48640
Tel: 1-989-835-6797

Midland Kings Daughters Home
2410 Rodd St., Midland MI 48640
Tel: 1-989-839-9800

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