On Thursday, January 3, 2019, at the age of 98, surrounded by her loving family, Blanche Mary ("Bee") Duquette (nee Blaskovich) of Western Springs was called home to heaven. A devoted wife, mother of fourteen, grandmother and great-grandmother, lifelong faithful Catholic, and gentle and gracious woman, she will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
First and foremost in Bee's life were her love of and devotion to God and her family. All her life Bee found happiness, hope, and strength in her attendance at daily Mass and in her daily prayers. Bee had unconditional love for her husband, all her children and their spouses, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and they, in return, for her.
Bee was born in Chicago on September 22, 1920, to Mary and Ben Blaskovich. When she was 5 her family moved to Hinsdale, where she attended school and met her lifelong best friends Emily (Fleck) Sobotka and Ilse (Glieve) Mullinix. Bee graduated from Hinsdale High School in 1938, particularly excelling in typing and shorthand, which led to a job in Chicago that she loved.
At a fateful picnic in Fullersburg Forest Preserve in 1943, she met Francis H. ("Duke") Duquette, a handsome young sailor stationed at Navy Pier. They maintained a relationship by letter as Duke served in World War II, and while on leave Duke proposed. They wed during his next leave, on July 15, 1944, at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Hinsdale. The happy couple began their married life together on the naval base in Corpus Christi, Texas, and then lived for a brief time in Massachusetts before settling down to raise their family in Hinsdale.
During their time in Texas, Bee and Duke became fast friends with the priest at the church across the street from their apartment, Monsignor Kasper. He blessed them, wished them a happy life together, and prayed for them to have one child for each of the Stations of the Cross. His prayer was granted, as their 14 children can attest!
Bee and Duke spent nearly 40 happy years raising their growing family on Justina Street in Hinsdale; all but one of their children were born at Hinsdale Hospital. The family enjoyed special neighbors who were also best friends, and Bee and Duke's home was always open to everyone. Bee cherished all her children and taught them to love God and neighbor; her children are grateful for this, as well as for the family traditions Bee and Duke raised them with, including the treasured family recipes of hoska and eclairs. For many years the family belonged to St. Isaac Jogues parish in Hinsdale. Later, Bee and Duke were among the founding members of St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs.
Bee was a stay-at-home mother, but when she felt her youngest children were old enough for her to go back to work she accepted a job at Dryden Press, a textbook publishing branch of CBS. Loved and respected by her co-workers, in 1975 she was named one of the CBS Employees of the Year!
After Bee's retirement in 1984, Bee and Duke moved to Sequim, Washington, where they made many wonderful friends. During their years in Sequim, Bee and Duke enjoyed church activities, gardening, and traveling to visit family and friends all over the United States and Canada, as well as an occasional trip to play the slots in Reno and Las Vegas. Bee was always up for any new adventure; she walked on a glacier in Alaska and joined hula dancers on stage in Hawaii. Bee also made many good friends at her beloved Bingo games.
While in Washington, Duke suffered a debilitating stroke, and Bee lovingly and patiently cared for him in their home during his final years. After he passed away in 1996, with the love and support of her family and friends and her faith in God, Bee persevered and continued to live a happy and peaceful life in Sequim. She continued to enjoy traveling, visiting family and friends, and taking a number of cruises. On one of her last trips to Las Vegas, she was thrilled to take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and join in a celebratory picnic and champagne toast on the floor of the canyon.
Bee especially treasured her annual trips to YMCA Camp Nawakwa, a family tradition begun in the 1960's when her children were young. Bee loved spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in the midst of the natural beauty and serenity of the north woods of Wisconsin at the camp, and often said it was her favorite place in all the world. Bee loved fishing and while at Nawakwa, at the age of 88, she caught her first 38" long musky, gaining her a spotlight in Musky Hunter magazine!
In 2014, Bee moved back to Illinois, where many of her children live, allowing them to be closer and enjoy her company in her golden years. There she was lovingly tended by her children and grandchildren as her health began to fail. She continued to enjoy reading, outings, Bingo, travel, and playing card games, especially the long-time family favorite, Tripoley. To the end, even as her energy began to wane, Bee always enjoyed being in the thick of things, and all her family and friends have treasured memories of their time with her.
Bee was preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband Duke, her brother Tony Blaskovich (the late Frances), her brother-in-law Wilfred Duquette (the late Peg), her sister-in-law Irene Messier, her sons-in-law Bill Luense and Curtis Lohler, and her granddaughter Abby Rose Duquette. She leaves behind her sister, Mary Blaskovich, and fourteen children: Richard Duquette (Wanda); Mary Jo Hodges (Milford); Ann Schaller (Ron); Maggie Simpson (John); John Duquette (Collette); Sue Lohler (Patrick Foley); Kathy Gazdacka (Joe); Mark Duquette (Mary); Peter Duquette (Lori); Michael Duquette (Julie); Daniel Duquette (Wendy); Christopher Duquette; Patrick Duquette (Peg); and Daria Skrzypczynski (David). She also leaves 33 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, her brother-in-law Francis Messier, and nephews Richard Blaskovich (Connie), Terry Blaskovich (Steve Spellman), and many Duquette nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held from 3-9 p.m. on Friday, January 11, at Adolf Funeral Home, 7000 S. Madison Street, Willowbrook. Family and friends will meet for a mass of Christian Burial at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 12, at St. John of the Cross Church, 5005 S. Wolf Road, Western Springs. In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated to Word On Fire Ministries (www.wordonfire.org) or YMCA Camp Nawakwa (www.nawakwa.com).