Duane Noble Skates

Obituary

Duane Noble Skates passed away in Elk Grove, California on September 21, 2020.  He was predeceased by his parents Helen and Edward Skates, and his twin brother Daniel who died at birth.  He is survived by his life partner and best friend Beth Wied.  He is also survived by his sister Arda Crump, his niece Cheryl Crump, nephew Duane Crump, four great nieces, two great nephews, one great grand niece, and countless friends.

Born on March 13, 1947 in Sacramento, California, Duane grew up on his family’s Flying Feather Ranch (a Spanish land grant ranch located in what is now known as the north Natomas area) and in Oak Park.  He graduated from Sacramento High School and majored in music at Sacramento City College and Sacramento State University.  In 1966, Duane enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  He auditioned for the Marine Corps band, playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the tuba, and was accepted into the “Presidents Own” in Washington DC.  He decided, however, to follow family military tradition and volunteered for service in Viet Nam.  There, as a machine gunner, he was a member of an elite reconnaissance team, and, as the smallest member of the team was a “tunnel rat”.  He was awarded a silver star and two bronze stars for heroism, five purple hearts, and numerous other medals, ribbons, and commendations.

Following his Marine Corps service, Duane returned to Sacramento and college.  He was a professional musician and was the original drummer for Tower of Power.  After he walked away from professional music, Duane moved to Cupertino, California, and became a National Service Officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart.  He then moved on to the California Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Claims Representative, managing the San Francisco and Oakland offices.  He retired as the Veterans Services Officer for the County of Santa Clara.

Duane was a compassionate, complicated, and sentimental man with a large heart.  Named Little Feather, he was fiercely proud of his Arapaho and Blackfoot Native American heritage.  Duane loved animals (who loved him back), played baseball, raced motorcycles, competed in rodeos, participated in Native American events, coached AYSO Soccer, coached drum and bugle corps, and bowled.  A favorite memory was when visiting Disneyland, after marching in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, he was able to see Louis Armstrong play.  In retirement, he gardened, rebuilt fences, decorated the home inside and out for all holidays, cooked, helped the neighbors, followed San Francisco Giants baseball, became a doting uncle to Luke and Evan Wied (Beth’s nephews), and greatly enjoyed his life in Elk Grove.  He will be deeply missed by all whom he touched.  Semper Fi, Marine!

In light of COVID-19, private services will be streamed live on November 10, 2020 at 2:00.  Please see the obituary on EastLawn.com for the link.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Duane’s memory to the Marines Memorial Association at 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA. 94102 noting “In Memory of Duane Skates” or call Chelsea Leonard, Director of Development at (415) 658-9210.

Guestbook

  • Erin Kilbane says:

    I will always remember that smile, and wonder….
    You will be greatly missed, especially on thec4th of July. You have been a dear and loving friend.
    I will stand strong with Beth.
    Love you Duane. Rest in Peace.

  • Korie Brown says:

    You were a wonderful man and a loving life partner. Rest In Peace.

  • Leon Tuttle says:

    A great friend and supporter of veterans.

  • Matthew Drake says:

    Thank you for being a great neighbor and a friend. Rest easy Marine.

  • Edward trujillo says:

    RIP, Duane. You made life a joy.

  • Nancy Vise says:

    Duane was our wonderful neighbor, always willing to help out, whenever and wherever needed. His loss has left a big hole in our collective hearts.

  • Juan Soto says:

    Duane, How does one say goodbye to a friend of 54 years? I remember when we first met at the stadium, taking our final oath of allegiance to our country. Then at boot camp when I made you sleep on the top bunk, then the trials and pain of what the DI’s put us through. We had fun times during liberty, to forget boot camp. Then the war. There’s nothing to be said about that. We both felt the pain, anguish and sorrow of losing our friends, but we healed from our would. Almost. So enough of that. How does one say goodbye? I don’t. We’ve shared a lot over the years, so I’ll say…until later.
    Semper-Fi

  • chheavy lema says:

    Duane, it has been a pleasure getting to know you this past year. My team and I look forward to seeing your sweet face every time you drop off your clothes. We appreciate you supporting our business and getting something dirty just to have us clean it, especially during these hard time. Thank you Beth for updating us and taking the time to come by our store. We felt like we know so much about you through all the stories Duane had shared. We are sadden by the news of his passing and will miss seeing his face, smile and stories. RIP Duane and you are missed.
    Love, Chevy & Chris Lema &
    the Martinizing Dry Cleaning Team.

  • Frank Perez Tays says:

    You were a good man and life partner to Beth! I enjoyed the time we spent together over the years! Rest In Peace-Marine-Your Duty Is Done!

  • Steve Iwata says:

    I believe this is the same Duane Skates whom he and I were both Tubas players in the Sacramento You Band . I remmber his beautiful Silver Conn20 J Tuba. I also served in the US Army and retired from it. I say to you I finally got to find you and am sorry we were unable to speak. Brother tuba player, fellow military brother and to you Sempre Fi !

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