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:
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:
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:
Duran had twenty-eight nieces and nephews, of whom eleven preceded him in death.
Duran is survived by:
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.
The family will hold private disposition service at a later time.