Duane Frank Delger passed away Sept. 7, 2018, after a long illness.
Duane was born May 7, 1934, in Poplar, to Frank and Edna Schutt Delger. He had a difficult childhood. His family didn’t have much, and they moved over 13 times before he turned 18. At one point, they were homeless and lived in the back of a grocery store. He spent much of his childhood living in Wolf Point next to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation along with his younger siblings Marlene and LeRoy.
Duane had an outstanding career in sports, excelling in basketball, football and track at the high school and college level. His teams won numerous state championships in every sport. He held the state record for both the 100 and 220 yard run. He was regarded as one of the top athletes to come out of Montana. He was referred to as “The Speedster From Wolf Point” and “Star Athlete” in newspaper clippings.
Duane joined the military at 18, and was stationed in Germany. He continued to run track, and play basketball and football for the Army. He continued to win medals and championships. He celebrated his 21st birthday at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France.
After his military service, he returned to Montana State University (MSC). He played football and was part of the championship team that tied in the Aluminum Bowl in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1956. He was later inducted into the Montana State University Hall of Fame in 1987. He was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and graduated from MSU in 1960 with an Industrial Technology degree. He worked for Timberweld Manufacturing in Billings and Columbus for over 35 years. In 1979, Duane became a partner in Rocky Mountain Web Joist Company, which was chartered in Loveland, Colorado.
On March 22, 1959, Duane married Coral Jean Ostrum, one of the best decisions of his life. They had three children: Tamara, Marsha and Craig. He loved his children and taught them to fish, hunt and ski. He took his family on many backpacking and ski trips together. He enjoyed woodworking and teaching his children and grandchildren to work with tools.
Duane and Coral have belonged to the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd for 55 years. Duane once served as church president and spent many years on the property management committee.
In 1977, he designed and directed the construction of the family cabin near Dean, Montana. Many family members and friends participated in the construction of the cabin. This became a central gathering space for family and friends for over 20 years.
For his entire life, he loved competition and continued to be involved in sports. He was ranked in the top 10 nationally in handball and racquetball, in the senior division. His other hobbies included raising roses, watching his grandchildren participate in sports and traveling.
Duane wasn’t a hugger, preferring a very firm handshake instead. Even a handshake was a competition … squeezing others’ hands as hard as he could until someone would yield. He was challenged in his later years with many health problems but his competitive spirit inspired him to never give up.
He is preceded in death by his parents; infant daughter; and nephew Jason Ostrum of Absarokee. He is survived by his wife, Coral; daughter Tamara (David) McGraw of Billings; daughter Marsha Delger (Jerry Hudson) of Billings; and son Craig (Christy) Delger of Bozeman. He has seven grandchildren: Julie McGraw; Kieler Salisbury and Sienna Salisbury (Cody Cuppy); Ella, Ashlynn, Cambelle and Seeley Delger. He is also survived by his beautiful great-granddaughter Octavia Cuppy.
Other survivors are his brother, LeRoy (Marilyn) Delger of Bozeman, their children Darren (Jeanne) of Kansas City and Heidi (Dean) Blackford of Billings; sister Marlene (Richard) Funk of Puyallup, Washington, their children Kendall (Theresa) Funk of Puyallup, Lorilyn (Steve) Kinder of Wichita, Kansas, and Kevin (Dana) Funk of Tacoma, Washington. Also surviving are his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Merrill and Kathleen Ostrum of Fishtail, their children Vanessa (Ken) Monson of Absarokee and Terrill Ostrum of Roscoe; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Robert and Karen Ostrum of Bozeman, their children Kari (Cory) Lamey of Wise River and Chad Ostrum of Fishtail. He is survived by 19 great-nieces and nephews.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1108 N. 24th St. West. Interment with military honors will follow at 4 p.m. at the Rosebud Cemetery in Absarokee. The casket will be open for visitation from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., where the family will be receiving friends. The casket will be closed at church.
Duane will be remembered for his faith, his competitive spirit and his love of family and country.
Memorials may be given to Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (building fund), 1108 N. 24th St., Billings, MT 59102; Montana State University Athletics (Bobcat Football Excellence Fund), MSU P.O. Box 173380, Bozeman, MT 59717-3380; or any other organization of your choice.