Whether vegetables or Ruritan giving, Duane Eby loves watching things grow

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Duane C. Eby came to Suffolk from his native Oregon in 1969 as a production manager for Planter’s Peanuts. That was back in the day when a person could travel the nation’s airways with few restrictions.

&uot;I remember carrying sample cases and tools for Planter’s and no one even looked in your direction back then, but that was before the Twin Towers bombings,&uot; said Eby. &uot;Now, if we fly to Hawaii or the west coast to visit family, we can barely get on the plane because of restrictions about what we are carrying in our pockets.


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Eby spent most of his life in the food processing industry; working first with Snow Crop and Green Giant, and Minute Maid Corp. Armed with a degree in horticulture and food technology, he crossed the country from Canada to Florida to Mexico as a procurement officer and quality control inspector.

While he traveled the nation, he left his four children in the arms of his devoted wife, Donna, who still stands beside him as he continues his horticultural pursuits.

&uot;I love gardening because it’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was a boy,&uot; said Eby. &uot;That farm boy instinct just gets into your blood and you love watching things grow. Watching the plants produce vegetables and the fruits from the trees… Right now, I’m looking forward to a good crop of &uot;peaches and cream&uot; corn and some good, vine-ripened tomatoes. Nothing is better than fresh, home-grown vegetables!&uot;

Along with devoting his time to the garden, Eby is also community minded and helps many organizations. He and his wife lost their daughter, Mona Eby Driver, to cancer several years ago. She had served as the first &uot;Walk-a-thon&uot; chairman for the American Cancer Society, and Eby has dedicated much of his time, as does his wife, to the ACS.

Eby is also a member of the Suffolk Ruritan Club. He is a charter member and has served as treasurer for the organization for almost 25 years. Each year, he is responsible for distribution of funds to many civic groups, service organizations and individuals, and handles upwards of more than $50,000 in contributions.

&uot;This is the Suffolk Ruritans’ way of giving back to the community in a way that helps young people going to college as well as groups like Boy and Girl Scouts, Sickle Cell Anemia, the Salvation Army, the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad, and many others,&uot; said Eby. &uot;I truly believe in giving back because God has given us all so much. I have had a wonderful life, and in spite of a few rough spots, am so grateful for all that I have. I feel that each of us must show our faithfulness and gratitude by giving back to each other.&uot;

Name: Duane C. Eby

Age: I was born in 1929

Family: My wife, Donna, and our daughter, Kimberly Eby, and our sons are Greg and Randy Eby. Greg is the only one who lives out of Suffolk. He lives in Newport News. We lost our daughter, Mona Eby Driver, to cancer a few years ago. She was the first chairman of the &uot;Walk-a-Thon.&uot;

Education: I attended school in Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University with a BA in horticulture and food technology.

Career/occupation: Retired from Planters in 1984, where I worked from 1970 to 1984 as a plant production manager and regional compliance manager. I traveled all over the country for Planters. Prior to that, I worked for Green Giant from Minnesota and California.

Favorite thing about your job: My retirement!

Least favorite thing about your job: Flying all over the country.

Volunteer activities: My primary focus is the Suffolk Ruritan Club, the American Cancer Society, and the American Red Cross-Suffolk Chapter. Also, my church, Bethlehem Christian, where I have been a member for 20-plus years.

Favorite thing about Suffolk: I enjoy the slower pace of the city, although the traffic is getting horrible as the city continues to grow.

What accomplishments are you proudest of? My family, of course. Also, living in the countryside of Virginia, and Suffolk in particular. It reminds me of my childhood home in Oregon.

Who or what motivates and inspires you: My wife, Donna. She basically raised our children while I traveled the country for Planters, and she never failed to take me to the airport and pick me up. She has been a wonderful wife and mother to our four children, and I feel blessed to have shared her life.

Favorite way to spend free time: Gardening, volunteer activities and our family vacations in Florida and Hawaii.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? Live your life as if you live in a glass house and be above board and honest at all times. Also, treat others as Christ would treat you because He’s constantly watching.

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? Family, church, and trustworthy friends.

We all have our 15 minutes of fame in this life. How would you spend you time in the spotlight? I would like to be remembered as a man who was a friend to all. I meet people and enjoy getting to know them, and I also enjoy helping others.