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William D. Van Duyn

July 3, 1956 — February 6, 2023

Portland

William D. Van Duyn

William David (Dave) Van Duyn, 66, passed away peacefully at his residence in Portland, Texas on Monday, February 6, 2023, with his husband, Keith Ribnick and several family members at his side.  David was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and proudly graduated from Flour Bluff High School in 1974. 

In his early youth, David could be found most days at his Grandfather’s home on the water front playing all day.  In his teens and later years, David could be found anytime on the waterfront:  fishing, netting and running trout lines.  He enjoyed these activities with his beloved brother, Ernie. David often said that his youth was perfect, as it allowed him to be on the water almost every day.   

After graduating from high school, he often helped his Dad setting nets and delivering his fish for income.  David’s most enjoyment was being on the water doing what he loved best.  And, he had many good friends and family members to fish and to enjoy life with.  He also worked at Snoopy’s restaurant and bar on Padre Island, which kept him close to the water he loved so much.  

After visiting Belle Chasse, Louisiana, David began working at the Bayou Barriere Golf Club.  While there, he often visited friends across the river in New Orleans.  In May 1985, he met a young man named Keith Ribnick. It was love at first sight for David; and he and Keith became inseparable almost immediately.  Love must be blind, as David fell for someone so different then he was.  Keith had no use for fishing and the outdoors.  David had little tolerance for shopping and the New Orleans nightlife.  David and Keith focused on their immense love and respected their differences.  It was a successful recipe that worked for 37 years.

In May, 1986, David and Keith moved to South Burlington, Vermont.  David agreed to make the move for Keith, as his family had relocated to Cape Cod, MA.  This was indicative of what David did for the remainder of his life:  a sole focus of taking care of his man. 

David and Keith spent 20 years in Vermont.  David worked for Arbortech as a landscape supervisor for many years.  One of his responsibilities was to provide snow removal for several local properties; an odd occupation for someone born and raised on the Gulf Coast.  Later, David went to work in management for Aerus/Electrolux, where he met and worked with his lifelong friend, Marcy.  When Keith’s father, Frank, needed special care late in life, Dave opened his home to Frank.  They took care of Frank during the last four years of his life until 1998.

In late 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court made a landmark decision that gay individuals should receive the same rights and responsibilities to marry that other people had.  To David, this was a no-brainer.  In early 2000, David often accompanied Keith to the Vermont State House to listen to testimony and debate about what the state would do.  When Keith was selected to testify, David helped him with his notes and was nearby as Keith explained the value of family to society.  He talked of David’s unconditional love and how he had accepted Frank into their family.  If that was not family, what was?  Vermont’s civil union law was eventually enacted, and David and Keith entered into their civil union on February 2, 2001.  Afterwards for several years, David and Keith did volunteer work explaining the value of their civil union to other Vermonter’s.  When gay marriage was legalized nationally, David later married Keith in Ventura, California in 2016. 

David briefly moved to South Florida in 2007 while Keith took a federal job in Washington, DC.  David lived with his sister, Patty, in Florida.  He returned to his coastal roots by doing a lot of fishing and he was very happy there.  David reunited with Keith in their home state of Texas in 2009.  They initially lived in Plano and Waxahachie, Texas. 

In 2018, David was diagnosed with uncurable, treatable cancer.  Later that year, MD Anderson Cancer Center accepted David as a patient; and he started a relentless series of difficult chemotherapies.  Through them all, David stayed focused on remaining alive for the love of his life, Keith.  He endured many treatment side effects and kept battling on, amazing his family and all health care providers.  David was a difficult patient, not fond of doctors prodding him.  But he showed great respect to his health care teams and they all became good friends. 

David and Keith moved to Portland, Texas in 2020.  David was thrilled to return to his home and to his beloved family.  David cherished living close to his brother and sister, Ernie and Rena.  He especially loved being able to wade fish again.  As his cancer progressed, David showed amazing courage and tenacity for life.  He fought cancer to the end of his life; craving and achieving relative normalcy at home until just days before his passing. 

The measure of a man is the difference he makes in others’ lives.  David focused his sole attention later in life on his spouse, Keith.  Their love astounded all who knew them.  Even as David struggled with pain and fatigue, he always made sure Keith was safe and well.  Their love will transcend time.

David was predeceased by his parents, Ernest Eugene Van Duyn and Dorothy Nell Van Duyn; his sister, Linda Fay Rivera; his brother, Ernest Eugene Van Duyn; his step-brother, Ralph “Tiny” Van Duyn; and his niece, Tiffany Gagliano.  David is survived by his husband and life-partner of 37 years, Keith Philip Ribnick; his beloved sisters, Rena Mae (Bob) Davis of Portland (TX) and Patricia Schoggins of Homestead, Florida; his step-sister, Shirley Ballard; his sister-in-law, Linda Van Duyn; and four nieces and nephews who he loved and cherished. 

A Celebration of Life for David will be held on Friday, February 10, 2023 at 3 pm at his home in Portland.  Donations may be made to David’s two favorite charities:  MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Corpus Christi.

Fish on, David!  We’ll be together again soon.

Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of the professionals at Winsteads’ Funeral Home.           361-643-6465 www.winsteadsfuneralhome.com

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