Nelson Duarte, a former resident of Edgartown, died June 23 in Tuscon, Arizon. He was 85.
Born in 1923 and raised on the Island, Nelson left Martha’s Vineyard after high school to join the U.S. Navy. Later, he attended Aviation Maintenance school, eventually enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard. Stationed on Nantucket island, he worked as a lighthouse keeper and on a rescue crew out of Brant Point. There he met his beautiful wife Margaret. They married in 1952, on his parent’s 30th anniversary.
After the Coast Guard, Nelson enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. During his enlistment he served at the Texas Towers and Otis Air Force Base. He was stationed and served in France, Germany, Maine, Texas and eventually Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. Retiring from the Air Force, he worked as an aviation mechanic, eventually owning Tucson Aviation Maintenance for many years. He also taught A& P classes for Pima College’s Aviation Program.
Upon retirement, Nelson spent a lot of time pursuing his next love, RVing. He and Margaret were “on the road again,” reconnecting with old friends and family in the U.S. and Canada.
Nelson enjoyed many hobbies and loved the outdoors. He was a lifetime member of the Pima Air & Space Museum and served as an usher in his church. He took great pleasure in “armchair coaching” University of Arizona football and basketball games, even when Parkinson’s disease left him unable to do many of the things he once enjoyed. Nelson was a strong, caring, humble man with a great sense of humor, many talents, few words and lots of wisdom. Many will miss him.
He was predeceased by his parents, Frank and Charlotte Duarte of Edgartown, brother George and son in law Arturo (Art) Cervantes. He is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Margaret (Peggy) Duarte and their children, Lindamarie Schweizer and her husband Peter, Elaine Cervantes and her husband Gilbert Lòpez, Nelson and his wife Carol, Sandra, plus ten children and eight grandchildren. He is also survived by sister Jane Farland and her husband Joe of Massachusetts, sister in law Mary Duarte of California and many extended family members.
A mass was held June 30 at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Tucson, Ariz. Interment will be held at a later date at Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod.
The family would like to thank Angel Valley Funeral Home, Odyssey Hospice and all the doctors and therapist who cared for Nelson.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are made to St. Vincent de Paul, Pima Air & Space Museum, American Parkinson’s Disease Association or a charity of your choice.