Duane Nienhuis: November 30, 1960 – March 3, 2024

It is with heavy hearts to share that our father, Duane Hofman Nienhuis, passed away on March 3, 2024, with his loving children by his side. He was 63 years old.

Duane was one of those people that seemed to know everyone, enjoyed a good laugh and loved to talk. He always enjoyed a good conversation and sharing stories, some of which we would question, but knew they were likely true because he seemed to attract “characters,” mostly because he was one himself. He was someone people could rely on and helped out countless friends, family members and acquaintances. After he bought his excavator and tractor, he seemingly jumped at any opportunity to use his toys.

Growing up on Whidbey Island on a small dairy farm led Duane to a life of strong work ethic, a love for the outdoors, and a desire for self-sufficiency. We would often joke that his favorite hobby was cutting wood, but it kept us warm and provided a lot of bonding time with our dad.

We were fortunate when he started working with the NAS Whidbey MWR Youth Center and later the Boys and Girls Club of America in South Naknek and Naknek, AK. He loved working with kids and put his heart into the Club; he always wanted to have more opportunities available for the community. He made open gym and volleyball nights available, and made the Club a safe place to be. He often talked about how running the Club and living in South Naknek was one of his favorite parts of his life, and it was one of the best decisions he ever made for our family.

Duane also loved an adventure and was a risk-taker. His first time out to Bristol Bay for commercial salmon fishing in the early 1980’s led to a life-long passion that will be continued on with the second (and third) generation. He was a true captain, and lived for each fishing season. He was always thinking of ways to improve the operation and working on projects. The beach property,“ Diamond M,” eventually became his home in his final years, and the work he accomplished there in the last 20 years demonstrates his love of heavy equipment and always trying to make things better than when he found them.

We have many fond memories of camping in Eastern Washington, decades of commercial fishing in Bristol Bay, smelting and crabbing in Puget Sound, many trips to Hope Island, and road trips to Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska. One of his dreams was to visit New Zealand, which he made happen after his oldest graduated. Our dad really made the most of life; what others may have called impulsive he would have seen as an opportunity for an interesting experience. He lived a truly rich, genuine and vibrant life. We are blessed he shared so many stories and took us on so many adventures; more than anything he wanted to spend time together as a family. We’ll miss his laugh and big bear hugs, as well as the phone calls and messages to give us “the scoop.”

Duane is survived by his four children: Ame (Shane), Bart (Kenzey), Catie and Flint; and four granddaughters: Harper and Zelda (Bart and Kenzey) and Elsie and Nora (Ame and Shane).

A celebration of life, along with scattering of his ashes, will take place at the fishing sites in July. A celebration and potluck for friends and family in Oak Harbor will be held August 10th at Windjammer Park.