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Henry Duane Babcock

Obituary for Henry Duane Babcock

August 1, 1925 - June 10, 2017
Lakeway, Texas | Age 91


Henry Duane Babcock died peacefully on June 10, 2017, from complications following open heart surgery. He was born August 1, 1925, in Wichita, Kansas, to loving parents, Howard Nelson Babcock and Beva Beryl Becker. He had an older brother, Howard Jr, and an older sister, Mildred. Duane's work ethic began early with teenage jobs that included selling eggs and vegetables from the large family garden to neighbors; driving tractors in various farm flelds alongside his older brother; and working at a bookstore doing odd jobs including cleaning, stocking shelves, assembling tricycles and wagons and occasionally working in the small model airplane shop. It was this last job that likely sparked his interest in flying and building model airplanes. As an adult Duane continued innovative hobbies. He built his stereo receiver and a television and fixed innumerable household appliances and toys. In school he played the trumpet in school bands. Big band music continued to be an interest in college where he was a member of the Matt Betton band. They played for numerous dances both on and off the college campus. His love of music was ever present in his life.

Following his graduation from East High School in Wichita, Duane was accepted to Kansas State University. However, with WWII in full operation he felt compelled to enlist in the Navy Air Corps at the age of 17. The Navy recruiter advised Duane to go on to KSU, and he would be called up if needed once he turned 18 years. He officially became active duty with the Navy in Oct 1943 and was training to be a pilot on the N3N or Yellow Peril biplane when WWIIthe war ended. He was released to Navy Reserves in September 1945. Duane then returned to KSU where he completed his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering with an aeronautical option.

While at KSU, Duane met the love of his life, Mildred Hall. Duane was a member of Beta Theta Pi , and she was a Chi Omega. One night Duane called the sorority house in search of a dinner date and Mildred answered the phone. When Duane learned that neither of her sisters was at the sorority house, he eventually convinced Mildred to go have dinner him before finishing her nightly studying. The rest was history, and they married in Aug 1948 after graduation.

Duane's successful 34-year career working with Schlumberger began in Wichita, KS, in Feb 1948. Within 6 months he was promoted and soon after marriage they moved to Russell, KS. Housing was in short supply but the company provided them a house with no furniture, icebox or even stove. Duane used his woodworking skills to make some furniture. The company required him to be on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. He often worked out in the elements during frigid winters and hot summers. However, Duane continued to earn promotions to various managerial positions incorporating larger areas and more responsibilities. Duane was respected for his dedication, determination, and leadership. He attributed his company successes to not only his own skills but also to Mildred whose education, sincerity and gracious heart earned her personal acceptance with Schlumberger bosses and employees wives. They moved next to Pauls Valley, OK, where their first two daughters were born; then to Elk City, OK, and on to Wichita, KS, where their third daughter was born. The family continued to move about every 4 to 6 years with time spent also in Midland, TX, Houston, TX, and Lafayette, LA. In summer 1972, Duane and Millie moved to New Canaan, CT, when Duane was transferred to Schlumberger Ltd and worked on Park Ave in New York City. This job required that he once again travel extensively. He traveled all around the world gaining cultural introspection. He took numerous trips to Paris, France, where Schlumberger is headquartered but he also went to London, most countries in South America, several African countries, the Far East, and the Middle East including Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. In 1977 they returned to Houston where he retired in 1984. Two years later he joined with other former oil company associates to start a new oil services company before once again retiring in spring 2003.

Over the years Millie and Duane valued family and cultivated close and lasting friendships through work and play. They moved to Lakeway, TX, in spring 1997. They had been playing golf since the early 1960s and this continued to be a fun activity. Duane was competitive in local golf tournaments: he shot his age when he was 87 years old. Their faith and church service was always a foundation wherever they lived. They became members of the Lakeway Church where Duane served as Deacon for the Buildings and Grounds committee. He took on many projects and repairs over the years, e.g., building several different portable wooden items for pastoral and musicians use such as a small wooden podium for the Associate pastor and a wooden storage box for the advent wreath; refinishing the front doors; replacing numerous lightbulbs, light fixtures and electrical fixtures throughout the church property; and various other projects both inside and outside the church buildings. In the beginning, the church projects involved Millie as his faithful assistant. As her dementia and health situations caused her to leave the home for full-time care, Duane devoted his time between visiting Millie daily until her passing in 2010 and continuing his commitment to assist the church even to the end. He was a "Man of conviction and of his word."

Duane continued to be active in life. At home, he took care of his house and mowed "the back 40 or golf course easement property". He became a pretty good cook and fixed healthy meals. Duane thoroughly enjoyed the arts, supporting the local TexArts Association and attending the Austin Symphony Orchestra as a seasoned ticket holder. He lived life to the fullest for 91 years. He shall rest next to Millie at the Lakeway Church Memorial Garden. There will be a memorial service in celebration of his life at the Lakeway Church on Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 10:00 am in the sanctuary. Following the service all are invited to attend a short reception in the Fellowship Hall.

Duane is survived by his daughters, Janet Wright, Barbara Peterson (husband Jeff), Cheryl Ragan (husband Terry); his grandsons, Marcus Franki (wife Rebekah), John Peterson, Todd Peterson (wife Holly), Chris Ragan; his step granddaughter Julie Franki (partner Heather); his step great granddaughter Sophia Franki; his great grandson Vincent Franki; and many well-loved cousins, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews. Family was very important to Duane. The family requests no flowers. Donations can be made in his memory to:
1) Lakeway Church, 2203 Lakeway Blvd, Lakeway, TX 78734, 512-261-6331
2) TexArts Association, 2300 Lohmans Spur Suite 160, Austin, TX 78734, 512-852-9079
3) Austin Symphony Orchestra, 1101 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701, 512-476-60642) Beta Theta Pi Men of Principle ???


Lakeway Memorial Gardens
2203 Lakeway Blvd.
Lakewau, TX 78734

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Donations can be made in his memory to: 1) Lakeway Church, 2203 Lakeway Blvd, Lakeway, TX 78734, 512-261-6331, 2) TexArts Association, 2300 Lohmans Spur Suite 160, Austin, TX 78734, 512-852-9079 or
  • 3) Austin Symphony Orchestra, 1101 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701, 512-476-60642) Beta Theta Pi Men of Principle ???

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411 Ranch Rd. 620 S.
Lakeway, TX 78734
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