Cover photo for Duran Lee Stapleton's Obituary
Duran Lee Stapleton Profile Photo
1946 Duran 2023

Duran Lee Stapleton

August 2, 1946 — August 24, 2023



Duran Lee Stapleton, 77, of Benton, Arkansas passed away peacefully on Thursday, August 24, 2023, surrounded by his loving family, after a prolonged and heroic battle with lymphoma, at peace with the certainty that to be absent from this life is to be in the presence of the Lord.

Duran was born at home on August 2, 1946 at Calico Rock, Arkansas to William Martin Stapleton and Alma Mae (Thomas) and spent his youth roaming the valleys and wooded Ozark mountains of Izard County, hunting for sport and to help provide for his family. The White River also offered an abundance of fish, particularly trout, and his familiarity with the river later provided one of his many jobs through life, that of a fishing guide.

Providing for his family was the driving force in his life from a young age and remained so throughout his life. Duran left school in the ninth grade, going to work to help support his family and never stopped, whether by working overtime hours at his regular job, to taking on sideline jobs to help supplement the family finances. Side by side with his nine brothers and sisters, Duran learned the meaning of hard work from an early age. Farm work, tending to animals, picking and chopping cotton, harvesting from the family garden and cutting firewood with is father were a part of daily life. Even at the height of his illness, his foremost thoughts were of making sure his family was taken care of. 

Duran was a jack of all trades, regularly building, maintaining and performing improvements to his home, vehicles and property. Whether driving a tractor or lawnmower, building a shed or a pig pen, overhauling the motor in his pickup truck or repairing the plumbing or electrical systems of his house, he was seldom still, often working until darkness made it impossible to see, then eating dinner and heading off to bed, only to repeat the same sequence the next day.  

Duran met the love of his life, Nancy, at age 14 and her recollection of her first sight of Duran was him walking out of the woods near her sister’s house, shirtless, with a .22 rifle across his shoulder, carrying a clutch of squirrels he’d just hunted. She was not impressed at the time, but they married five years later in 1964. A year later, Gary was born, followed by Donna two years after that. In 1976, Marty was born, making the family complete. 

That same year, while holding a full-time job and raising his family, he earned his GED, opening up additional opportunities for advancement. Duran held a multitude of jobs over his lifetime, including working as:

• A gas station attendant at Kenneth Estes Station in Calico Rock and others
• Framing carpenter with his brother-in-law, Mervin Elliott
• Trout fishing guide for Jenkins Trout Service
• Picker at fruit orchards near Chelan and Yakima, Washington
• Woodworking, mill work and supervision for Hayes Brothers Flooring, Curtis-Mathis, E.L. Bruce Company and Dixie Lumber and Molding (later Wrape Forrest Industries), working his way up to production supervisor thanks to his rigorous standards for detail, competence and hard work.
• And as one of the first employees for Gulf Sales, Incorporated, (later acquired by CoorsTek) his career transitioned to the manufacture of ceramic and silicon-carbide mechanical seals. Starting as a machinist and, later through his recognized leadership, values and commitment, was promoted to production supervisor, retiring CoorsTek after 30 and a half years of service.

After numerous moves taking the family from North-Central Arkansas to Washington State to the Upper-Peninsula of Michigan and back, the family settled long-term in Benton, Arkansas, later moving to Paron, where they lived for 20 years. Duran firmly established himself as a foundational member of the community, something not especially easy for newcomers to accomplish. Over the course of his years living at Paron:

• Duran was fundamental in the organization of the Paron Rural Water Association and served on the board of the organization.
• Duran won election to the Paron School Board, serving two terms and filling the roles of Secretary and President
• He was active in numerous school related activities, including PTSO, endless fundraisers for the school, volunteering with Nancy to chaperone a number of proms and senior trips and offer his time and expertise to any number of school functions.
• Duran wholeheartedly supported the pee-wee basketball team, which Donna played on, fund raising and playing in exhibition games with other parents.
• With Marty, he served as a Boy Scout Leader. He, along with Bill Neighbors, conducted pack meetings and took the scouts on camping and fishing trips, teaching them not only practical skills, but life lessons through leadership skills and demonstrated personal integrity.  
• He was a Master Mason, serving as Secretary, Treasurer and Master of Paron Lodge #309 and was quite proud that his son Gary conferred his degrees and installed him as Master of the Lodge. 
• He was baptized and was a regular member of Hester’s Chapel Church of Christ at Paron and served as a leader of Paron Church of Christ when it was established. 

After leaving Paron, Duran and Nancy lived in Benton and just outside Malvern, attending River Street Church of Christ in Benton.

As previously noted, hunting and fishing were Duran’s passion. An avid deer and turkey hunter, he collected a number of trophies over the years and loved nothing more than watching from his frost-covered deer stand as the steaming breath of a monster buck glowed in the early morning November sun or hooking a lunker bass or an enormous brown or rainbow trout. While November meant deer season, summers would frequently find him leading camping trips with his friends and coworkers to the White River to fish for trout. He would spend a large part of his time teaching them fishing techniques as well as how to cook the catch over a campfire on the riverside. Duran was a avid gun collector and trader, but was absolutely adamant about gun safety, teaching all his children and grandchildren proper use of firearms and seeing that they were able to take a deer under his guidance and instruction.

With his sometimes off-beat sense of humor intact to the very end, he showered love on his family and never shirked from his sense of responsibility for their well-being and provision.

Duran was preceded in death by:

• his parents, William Martin Stapleton and Alma Mae (Thomas)
• 4 brothers
o Orbie Cecil Stapleton
o Freddie Gail Stapleton
o Billy Borden Stapleton
o Carl Franklin Stapleton
• 5 sisters
o Mabel Flodean (Lovelace)
o Artie Janice “Toots” (Stroud)
o Francis Charlene “Chock” (Jeffrey)
o Valentine “Violet” (Burris)
o Avo Maxine “Mac” (Jeffrey)

Duran had twenty-eight nieces and nephews, of whom eleven preceded him in death.

Duran is survived by:

• His loving wife of 58 years, Nancy Ann (Muncy) 
• His three children, seven grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren
o Son, Gary and his wife Karla of Hot Springs and their four children 
▪ Misty Blunk and husband Zach with children Andrea, Jude, Ada, Ethan, Nettie and soon to arrive, Theo
▪ Anthoney Norton
▪ Muncy Stapleton and his daughter Greer
▪ Reese Stapleton
o Daughter, Donna (Bowers) and her husband Rodney of Benton and grandchildren:
▪ Payton Dawson and her children Bryan and Bella
▪ Savannah Knoedl and husband Kris and their children Lane and Ainsley
o Son, Marty and his wife, Ronne of Little Rock and his son, Barton
• Rick “Ricky Ray” Curtis. Rick was Duran’s long-time coworker, camping, hunting and fishing buddy, close friend and “adopted” son. When Duran experienced a medical emergency during a deep-sea fishing trip 80 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico Rick’s quick thinking and action quite literally saved Duran’s life. Throughout Duran’s illness, Rick’s daily visits, food deliveries, support, companionship and concern have been a source of continued strength and encouragement. All this even though, according to Ainsley, he has gray hair.

Visitation will be Monday, August 28, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will precede a memorial celebration of Duran’s life and legacy at 2:00 p.m. Services will be conducted by Smith Family Funeral Home, 322 North Market Street, Benton, AR, 72015.

John Windsor and Paul Tarvin will officiate.

Pall bearers:

• Jim Malone
• Gary Mize
• Micky Simpson
• Kenneth Reed
• Danny McDonald
• Larry Parsons

The family will hold private disposition service at a later time.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Duran Lee Stapleton, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, August 28, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Smith Family Funeral Home Benton

322 N Market Street, Benton, AR 72015

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Monday, August 28, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Smith Family Funeral Home Benton

322 N Market Street, Benton, AR 72015

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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