Marshall County mourns Duning's death

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This week Marshall County is mourning the loss of a man who was active in its civic life for over 50 years.

"Ted was very well respected in the legal and banking community," said Barry White, Marshall County president of the First Farmers and Merchants Bank. "When you would come to Ted with a problem, his counsel was always wise and thoughtful."

White described Ted and his wife as "friends of our family since the day we met."

Some people will remember Duning as a banker: he was the chief operating officer and, later, the president of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Many more will remember him as a volunteer with the Child Development Center, the Good Samaritan, and Meals on Wheels.

Others met him as an instructor with the Adult Learning Program or took his AARP Driver Safety class.

Generations of members of the First United Methodist Church will remember Duning teaching the Fellowship class, and his strong bass voice rang out in the church choir.

Theodore Paul Duning was born on June 17, 1921, in Richmond, Ind. He was one of three valedictorians when he graduated from Morton Senior High School in 1939, and went on to earn a B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Duning served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was on active duty from July 1, 1943, to June 1, 1946. He was a lieutenant on the USS LST 325, and made 43 trips across the English Channel to deliver troops and equipment to the beaches of Normandy.

In March 1946, while assigned to decommissioning duty in New Orleans, Duning met the love of his life, Waverley Ogilvie Murrey of Lewisburg, who was studying for her master's degree in social work at Tulane University.

After a whirlwind romance, Ted and Waverley were married on June 1, 1946, at the First United Methodist Church in Lewisburg. Sixty-three years later, Duning's family reported that "his face brightened visibly whenever she entered the room," and added, "while he did not fear death, he grieved to leave her in this world while he passed to the next."

In 1949, thanks to the G. I. Bill, Duning received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, and set up a legal practice in Richmond, Ind.

In 1955, the opportunity came to participate in organizing a new financial institution in his wife's hometown, and the Duning family moved south.

Apart from his work as a banker, Duning was a great believer in civic engagement. He served as a member of the Marshall County Quarterly Court, a predecessor to the County Commission. He initiated the local recycling program, becoming the first County Environmental Coordinator, and recruiting Rotary Club and Methodist Church members to participate in the state's Adopt-A-Highway program.

Duning was, at various times, president of the Chamber of Commerce, the United Givers Fund, and the Mutual Concert Association. He chaired the Retiree Recruitment Committee of the Marshall County Three-Star program and the Marshall County Chapter of the American Red Cross and its blood program (Duning himself was a 32-unit donor). He was a member of both Kiwanis and Rotary.

Ted Duning will be sorely missed by all who knew him, and fondly remembered by everyone who is familiar with the history of Marshall County in the second half of the 20th century.