Nature 14

Richard A. Duerson

June 5, 1950 ~ December 27, 2021 (age 71)


Richard “Rick” A. Duerson, age 71, of Rapid River, passed away Monday, December 27, 2021, at OSF St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba. He was born on June 5, 1950, in Washington, D.C., the son of Jack Riedel and Pauline (nee Krablin) Riedel. Rick grew up in Lake, MI and was a 1968 graduate of Farwell High School. He was drafted into the U.S. Army on October 2, 1969 and served his country during the Vietnam War until he was honorably discharged on October 1, 1975. Rick married the former Margret Denton in August of 1972 in Clare, MI and together they raised two children, Daisy and Kristopher. He attended Central Michigan University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and Communication in 1976. Rick began his radio broadcasting career at CMU working in Moore Hall Studios with student-run radio station WMHW (91.5). The first song he played on air was “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)” by The Four Tops in honor of Margret. He was then employed with radio stations around lower Michigan, including WCRM in Clare and WXYZ in Detroit.

The family moved to the Upper Peninsula in 1981 and made their home in Gladstone, MI after Rick accepted a position with the Tim Moore Group as General Manager. During this time, he helped turn Cozy 97 WKZY into Magic 97 WGLQ and was instrumental in helping it go on the air for the first time on April 26, 1982. The Radio Results Network (RRN) has since grown to 17 radio stations. Rick hosted The Morning Show for the first 10 years as well as the award-winning radio show, “This Week in the Woods.” He also hosted the RRN Shopping Show and many auctions. Rick was well-known for sense of humor, ending his radio shows by playing, “Happy Trails”.

Rick had other passions in addition to broadcasting. He and his son, Kris, had a dream to create a business that would capture the spirit of the great outdoors. They founded Rapid River Knifeworks in Rick’s barn in the spring of 2002 and began making knives for hunters and anglers. The business quickly outgrew Rick’s barn and is currently located just off US 2 in Rapid River, custom-crafting and shipping quality knives all over the world. Rick enjoyed watching the business evolve over the years and was extremely proud of his son’s sense of vision and hard work.   

Rick was active and a long-time supporter of the YMCA of Delta County. He served as a board member, led the YMCA through 2 terms as president, and was chair of the membership and later the program committee of the board of directors. Rick was a leader in the annual campaign to provide financial support for children and families to attend YMCA programs. As a great organizer and enthusiastic participant in the special events of the YMCA, Rick could always be counted on to add an element of fun to the hundreds of meetings he attended for over 30 years. Rick was also a member and past president of the Rapid River Lions Club.

Rick loved hunting, antique radios, classic cars, trips to the casino with Daisy and Kris, and his log cabin. His family meant the world to him, especially his grandchildren, who lovingly called him “Papa Tractor”. Rick was a true Delta County icon who will be greatly missed.

Rick is survived by his daughter, Daisy (William) Dailey of League City, TX; son, Kristopher Duerson of Rapid River, MI; grandsons, Kaden and Brendan Duerson; granddaughter, Virginia Ann “Annie” Dailey; sisters, Jackie Williams of Farwell, MI and Joni (Frank) Dicker of Lake, MI; mother of his children, Margret Erdody of Gladstone, MI; and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, Jack and Pauline Riedel, Rick was preceded in death by his sister, Marcia (nee Duerson) Tice; brother-in-law, Steve Williams; and biological father, Alfred Duerson.

A radio tribute in Rick’s honor is playing on RRN stations and a memorial for family and close friends is being planned. 

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