The following article was published in the Midweek Journal on December 12, 1988 by Lana Turner.
“Very laid back, nothing bothers him, a great sense of humor,” says his daughter LaDonna. His son-in-law Dale says “he’s a practical joker.” This man is Willard Duane Mishler, better known as “Duane”. He was born April 20th, 1931 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. His parents built a home on his grandparent’s farm, and as a result Duane has a lot of childhood memories of times spent with his grandparents. He would come home from school and head for the farm where he would help his grandfather with chores. Many times, he would end up eating there and on Friday’s spending the night. They made lots of homemade ice cream, and because they had lots of hills, they did a lot of sledding. Duane was the oldest and he had three sisters and two brothers, his younger brother died at the age of eight. He attended Conemaugh Public Schools for grades 1-7. During this time he would work for his grandfather. He especially liked driving a team of horses, and he got to harrow a lot. His grandfather made him a handsome oak desk for all the work he did. His parents, Cora (Eash), and Slate Mishler attended Blough Mennonite Church. Duane grew up there. Harry C. Blough was the minister. (This is Ron and Dwayne Blough’s grandfather.) From 8 – 12th grades, Duane attended Johnstown Mennonite School. During this time, he worked on a neighboring farm and was paid wages and got a free supper. At Johnstown Mennonite High School Duane met Esther Alwine. His sister and she were good friends, and because he was too shy to ask her out, he got his sister to do it for him. So one Sunday night after church he took her home. He knew she was the one for him. They dated for 2 ½ years. Duane graduated from High School in 1949, and Esther graduated in 1951. They got married July 21, 1951. After graduation and before he got married, Duane painted outdoors for his grandfather and then worked for different contractors in the area doing painting and carpenter work. After they were married, they rented a home in the area. Duane worked in the steel mill for a couple of years, and then went to painting full time. Meanwhile during this time they had three children, Shirlene, LaDonna, and Eugene. They were all born at home and Duane was present at their births. Duane was layed off so much in the winter months that his brother-in-law Jacob Miller, Jr., said if Duane would move to Ohio, he’d give him work. They moved in June 1962, and their youngest son, Greg, was born in August. He was delivered in a hospital, and Duane had to wait in the ‘Father’s room’ and it was very hard on him. Before they actually moved to Ohio, during those rough winter months, Duane would go to Ohio and painted, and come home on weekends. He worked for John Hershberger, Johnny Bender, and Lee Yoder. When they moved to Ohio, he worked for his brother-in-law one summer and then did odd jobs. While painting for Lee Yoder, James a Kinsley saw the good work he did and asked him to come work for him (1963). He worked there for 12 years. During this time he built two homes. In December of 1976, Duane decided to buy a farm and move to Townville, PA. By June of 1978, they were back in Ohio. It was the ‘Longest 18 months of her life,” says Esther. Her daughters were married and living in Ohio, and their first grandchild was born. She was homesick for all of them. Duane went back to work for James Kinsley for two years and then began his township job which he is presently working at. They purchased their present home on Kaufman Ave., in 1978. They have been blessed with a total of six grandchildren. When they moved to Ohio, Ralph Nisly was their milkman and he told them about Hartville Mennonite, and that’s how they came to Hartville Mennonite. They really grew to love it here. Duane has always enjoyed singing, and in his hometown church he sang in a quartet at church and on the radio. He really enjoyed that. When he came to our church he sang in a quartet with Art Wyse, Elmer Wittmer, and Jonathan Beachy. Later with Merle Bontrager, Harold Yoder and Jonathan. (I think we should do something to get them going again.) They did this for eight years. They went to the Navarre Prison Farm, and Mose Kurtz was their leader. Duane has also served as chorister at our church. He and Esther have also been on the hospitality committee.
Duane’s hobbies are hunting and playing golf. He likes to play ball and once pitched a no-hitter. His favorite food is meatloaf and baked beans. His favorite color is brown. If he had one dream or desire it would be to travel to Switzerland. He thinks it’s a nice country. He would also like to take a trip into space if the opportunity ever arose. We are very blessed to have a man of such musical talents and sense of humor as Duane in our church body. (We would be even more blessed if we could get his quartet started again.)
31 years later…Duane is retired and now has 7 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. We are blessed to have his 7th grandchild Katie, work at the church in Children’s Ministry.