Duane R. Brokenbek, Jr., 73, of North Huntingdon, passed away July 3, 2020 at the Veterans Hospital H.J. Heinz Campus after a hard-fought health battle that used up the last of his nine lives. His family is at peace knowing he is reunited with his wife of 40 years, the love of his life, Michelle (Weinberg) Brokenbek, who preceded him in death. Duane is the son of the late Duane R. Brokenbek Sr. and Rose Brokenbek. He is also survived by his brother James (Maryann) Brokenbek of McKeesport. He enlisted in the Air Force at age 18 and was deployed during the Vietnam War for two years. His service included the The Battle of Khe Sanh, one of the heaviest bombardments in history. After being honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant, Duane put himself through college while working full-time and raising a family, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at California University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. He then used his education and experience working for the Department of Veterans Affairs as Team Leader for the Veterans Resource Center for over 30 years assisting thousands of veterans in group and individual counseling, as well as helping to obtain jobs, housing, health benefits and other necessities for military members. He anonymously donated many turkeys every Thanksgiving to families in need as well as countless other community charities, including St. Jude’s Children’s. Arra Hospital, Operation Smile and Disabled American Veterans. Duane lived a full life including being a bodyguard for Bob Hope, one of his heroes, during a USO Tour in Vietnam, helping Bo Diddley carry his guitars, holding Ann-Margret’s luggage when she visited Vietnam and being stuck in a revolving door with Mick Jagger, who notoriously said “excuse me” first. Beyond his brushes with celebrities, he lived a quiet life alongside his soulmate Michelle, raising rabbits he then donated to 4H groups, collecting vintage audio and listening to obscure vinyl records. He lived for spending time with his four children who became resilient hard workers, generous people, and kind hearts because of their parents; Leah Leber, Marc (Leighann) Brokenbek, Seth (Jill) Brokenbek, and Shana (Marc) Tokarski. He took great joy any time he could be near his grandchildren, who he adored and could do no wrong in his eyes. His grandchildren fan club include Jaxton Leber, Isaac and Cianna Brokenbek, Jane Brokenbek, and Brooks, Eli and Sadie Tokarski. Duane asked that any contributions on his behalf be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America, or to treat a friend to a meal and conversation. Visitation will be held Tuesday from 11 AM to 12:30 PM at the James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Clay Pike, North Huntingdon. Interment will be held at the Temple B'nai Israel Cemetery at Elrod, Center Street in Versailles on Tuesday at 1 PM.
Originally published July 04, 2020.