Arlene Curtiss (Benjamin) Duquette

March 4, 1923 ~ January 28, 2022 (age 98)


Arlene Curtiss Benjamin Duquette was born March 4th, 1923, in Lee, Massachusetts. She passed away peacefully on January 28th at Kimball Farms Nursing Center in Lenox, Mass. 

She was preceded in death by her Father, Rutherford (Dick) Curtiss Benjamin, of Southbury, CT, her Mother, Florence Elizabeth Cobb of Housatonic Mass, her ex husband of 28 years, Arnold (Duke) Clarke Duquette of Pittsfield, Mass, cherished siblings, brother, Retired Colonel George Cobb Benjamin, sisters Jane Brown, and Dorothy Brunell. 

How do you share a full well lived life of 98 years in a single page? 

To begin, Arlene graduated from Lee High School in 1940, where she was one of the first three original cheerleaders for Lee High. She attended Jackson College for Women in Medford, Mass., and graduated from Pittsfield Secretarial School in the summer of 1941. In 1942 she married Duke in Biloxi, Mississippi during World War II. After the war they lived in Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, California, and Florida. In 1970 Arlene moved back to Lee for many years. She and Duke had 4 children together: Barbara Hancock (Woody), Golden, CO, Pam Duquette, Sandpoint, ID, David Duquette, (Carleen) Lee, Mass, and Judy Duquette (David King) also of Lee. 

Those early days of marriage instilled in her a love of traveling. She enjoyed visiting her children who were at times spread across the country, (even one living at a time in Germany), and enjoyed her eleven grandchildren, who affectionately called her Meemaw, Meme or Meems as it later became: Bryce and Matthew Hancock, Christopher and Brian Consolati, Amanda Duquette; Jessica White, Jedediah Duquette, Acacia Grant ; Asher and Trinity Duquette-Dismuke; and Danielle Lesnau, as well as her 18 great grandchildren. 

When not visiting family and old friends, you might have found her in the Caribbean on one of many Windjammer Cruises, Heli-Hiking in the Purcell Mountains in Alberta, Canada, accompanying a friend to New Zealand, whitewater rafting on the Salmon River, Idaho, walking on the beach in Sanibel Island, Florida, or taking opportunities around the country enjoying eleven ElderHostel trips. 

Some of her travel involved her continued ability to find occupations that interested her. As an independent single woman, Arlene was always one to go after something she wanted, showing she was never too old to try something new. She was employed as a private legal secretary in Maryland and Florida, worked in the legal department of Allegheny Airlines in Washington, DC, was a secretary for Kimberly Clark in Lee, and retired as an office manager at Ski Butternut, in Great Barrington. However, retirement did not stop her from volunteering and working part time once as a guide at Chesterwood Museum in Stockbridge, MA, and at the National Archives in Pittsfield. She became a receptionist at Canyon Ranch in her 60s and was still going strong at 89 years old, had a health issue not slowed her down, who knows what she would have found to keep herself busy and productive. In 2017 she moved into Kimball Farms for her last days. 

She also was interested in genealogy, loved to read and play cards with family and friends, and enjoyed playing golf at Greenock Country Club where she was also Treasurer for a few years. 

Throughout the years she touched many people and had a positive impact on their lives. She was loved not only by her family, but by friends and acquaintances she had. She had the ability to share her personality with people wherever she went. In 2012 she decided to write her life’s story for her children and their children. The last words she wrote were: “There is nothing that you cannot do if you put your minds to it. Even though I am broke (financially), I am richer than I ever thought I would be and so this is it .Have fun, take trips, don’t worry about things you can’t change, change what you can, and take my blessings and love with you always.” She will be remembered and missed by us all! We would like to thank the entire staff at Kimball Farms for the care and compassion shown to our mom the last 4 1/2 years, also to Hospice Care of the Berkshires for providing comfort for mom's final journey. 

Per Arlene’s request, there will be no wake or services at the funeral home and no flowers. Contributions in lieu of flowers can be made to the Hospice Care of the Berkshires or the donor’s favorite charity. A celebration of life will be at a later date.

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Hospice Care in the Berkshires
C/O Kelly Funeral Home 3 Main St., Lee MA 01238

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