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William Ravenel Duane

1942 - 2017 Obituary
William Ravenel Duane Obituary
William Ravenel Duane died peacefully at his home in Bluffton on Saturday, September 2nd, after a long, brave battle with cancer. He was just shy of his 75th birthday. He is survived by his wife Pam, his stepson Jay Chaffin, granddaughter Addy, his stepson Peter Bassett, Jr., his sister Clare and her husband Wiley Ellis, his niece Clare Ellis Galucki and nephews Benjamin and Robb Ellis. He was preceded in death by his parents, Violet McIntosh and John Duane, and his older sister Nancy Duane Cathcart. True to his promise, he hung on until the start of college football season and an opening day Gamecock victory.

Known to his friends for his wry wit and tenacity, Bill was an educated man. He was a proud graduate of The Hill School '61 and Rutgers University '65. By all accounts he was a fine athlete and fierce competitor; playing football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse. He undertook post graduate masters studies at the University of South Carolina and he remained an ardent, loyal Gamecock's fan to his death. (Much to the consternation of his Bulldog friends). His childhood memories were vivid; summers at the family properties in Highlands, NC, hunting, often at the Fife Plantation, and fishing in the bountiful waters around Bluffton on the May River.

In the late1960s, Bill embarked on the beginning of a long and prosperous career as a high school coach, starting at the Bluffton High School. He was a founding member of The May River Academy in 1971 where he also taught, coached and served as its Chairman of the Board. Bill and his young family moved to Charleston in the late 1970s when he was hired as the Director of the James Island YMCA. His professional coaching career hit full sail at the helm of The Porter-Gaud School football team. Throughout the mid 1980s, the Coach achieved notoriety and success as an offensive coordinator for the record setting Cyclones football team. Coach Duane was recognized for his innovation. He was credited with bringing the dynamic, high scoring aerial passing attack known as the 'run and shoot' offense to Carolina high school football. Many of the passing and receiving records achieved under his watch still stand as state record accomplishments. Bill retired from coaching from The Memorial Day School in Savannah in 1991 where he also served as its Athletic Director. His offices always contained copies of his favorite biographies and philosophies of his coaching mentors, Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, as well as photos of his favorite players and colleagues.

Upon retirement from athletics, Bill began a second career and returned to the playgrounds of his beloved low country. He began service as Manager of Clydesdale Plantation in 1991 and remained with them until his passing. Along his journey he served as manager and consultant to several area plantations and farms, including Summer Duck Farm and Oakland Plantation. He was the Plantation Manager at Delta Plantation from 2001 to 2013. He pursued his second career with the same intensity and focus as when he coached. His was a seasonal way of life, largely dictated by the roles played by time, temperature, rainfall and tides. His knowledge of agriculture, climate, geography and wildlife came from rigorous study, keen observation and scientific research. Bill became a Jedi of the tides, marshes, seasons and patterns of wildlife. ("If you wanted to know where the ducks were around the Savannah River, you better ask Billy" was a frequent quote from those who had the pleasure of sharing a blind with him.) As a conservationist and naturalist, Bill participated actively in environmental restoration efforts for quail, duck and native habitat. He was quite proud of his rice crops, relying on the organic, time honored methods to cultivate, harvest and mill Carolina Gold at Delta Plantation.

In his leisure time, during the warmer months, he could be found stalking the illusive bonefish on the Florida Keys, casting for spot tail bass over the oyster banks and shrimping the deep holes in the May River. Come fall and winter he loved to observe the migrations of the ducks and geese firsthand, from the farmlands in Saskatoon, Canada to the rice fields of Arkansas. An avid reader, Bill enjoyed the books of John D. McDonald and historical biographies of our country's great military leaders. He had a fantastic memory and was known to his friends for reciting dialogue from his favorite movies and passages from his favorite books. Throughout his life, Bill was a frequent face in Highlands, NC during the summer. He loved to canoe the rapids of the famed Chattooga River and caught many a trout in its waters. He enjoyed ending his days there with a picnic at Sunset Rock. Bill was a proud direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin and an active member of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. He undertook duties on its behalf to interview and grant academic scholarships to promote the education of worthy applicants from across the globe.

Bill's life touched his students, players, friends and family. He will be deeply missed by many. While Bill's passing will be met with sadness, we ask that you join us to celebrate his life on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 2pm at Sauls Funeral Home, 90 Simmonsville Road, Bluffton. In lieu of flowers, we ask you to consider donations to Heroes on Horseback at www.heroesonhorseback.org
Published in Bluffton Today on Sept. 19, 2017
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