Duane Lyman Berentson died peacefully in his sleep on July 5, 2013 in Mount Vernon, Washington. A Skagit County native, he was born on November 22, 1928 to Marion and Martha Berentson in Anacortes, Washington.
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On June 27, 1949, he married Joanne Hawkings. They celebrated their 64th anniversary this year.
Duane is survived by his wife Joanne, and their five children, Kristi (Jack) Burns of Spokane, Dan (Susan) Berentson of Burlington, David (Judy) Berentson of Burlington, Karen (Bill) Maston, Centennial. Colorado, Karol (Scott) Rarig, Seabeck, and 15 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Jim (LaVonne) Berentson of Bremerton.
He was preceded in death by his brother Buehl Berentson and his sister Helene Berentson Taylor.
Both Duane and Joanne graduated from Anacortes High School in 1947 where he enjoyed great success in athletics, specifically as a basketball player. He received a scholarship to the University of Washington and transferred to Pacific Lutheran University and played in the NAIA finals in Kansas City in 1951.
He began his teaching and coaching career at Mt. Baker High School in Deming and in 1954 accepted a position as the head basketball coach at Burlington-Edison High School taking his team to the state championship game against Stadium High School in 1959. During his teaching years he also ran a successful commercial painting company.
Later that year, he left the coaching and teaching profession to embark on a new career as a securities broker. He and Joanne later founded Duane Berentson Investments in Burlington and ran it successfully for many years.
In 1962, he was elected to the Washington State Legislature for the 40th District serving Skagit and San Juan counties for 18 years. In 1980, he served as Co-Speaker of the House of Representatives when the House seats split 49-49 Republican and Democrat. His reputation as a team player and ability to create harmony out of disagreement and cooperation out of competition earned him the respect of many.
In 1980 he ran for Governor of the State of Washington, losing in the primary to John Spellman by less than 4,000 votes. Being the team player he was, he supported Spellman in the general election and also served as the legislative liaison in the following session.
He was appointed Secretary of Transportation for the State of Washington in 1981, serving in the position for 12 years. Involved in transportation both in the legislature and as Secretary, he was influential in the completion of many construction projects of regional significance. The Transportation Commission named the twin bridges over the Swinomish Channel the "Duane Berentson Bridge" in honor of his dedication and success.
After retirement in 1993, Duane and Joanne enjoyed many years wintering in Arizona. In 2001, they moved back to Burlington after spending 20 years in Olympia.
Duane was a great sports fan, following the University of Washington Huskies, as well as the sports careers of his children, grandchildren and nephews and nieces. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed following state and national events throughout his entire life.
An active alumnus of Pacific Lutheran University, he served on many boards and committees throughout his life. A devout Lutheran, he served the church in many capacities as a loyal and dedicated servant.
A service will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at Edison Lutheran Church.
Remembrances can be made to Edison Lutheran Church, 14201 Church Road, Bow, WA 98232.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on July 9, 2013