French Canadian Interview Project

Duane Bertrand was born on November 10, 1929 in Bonfield, Illinois to Harvey and Mary Bertrand. Duane has four sisters and one brother. Some of his childhood memories include growing up during the Great Depression. His family was poor. Duane was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and attended mass Sunday and Holy Day. Duane's parents were hard working people who fostered a good home relationship. Duane's father was his role model. He went to a one-room school house during his elementary grade school years and graduated from Herscher High School. He worked in a dog food factory in Kankakee after high school (now part of Gaines). At the age of eighteen, he married Junetta Denault on September 25, 1948. He then changed jobs. He worked at Swanell's Hardware on Court Street in Kankakee. He also had a milk route. He rented a farm for two years until it was sold at the time of the Korean War. During that war, Duane was drafted, but decided to join the Air Force in 1950. He enlisted in December of that year, and was stationed in Gallop, New Mexico for one year. He was later stationed in the USAF Security Service in San Antonio, Texas for three years.

Since his armed service, Duane has farmed 640 acres and was a grain buyer as owner-operator of the Irwin Grain Company. Duane and Junetta have four children, three girls and one boy. Two children are deceased. They have ten grandchildren. Duane has served on the Kankakee County Board as a Republican committeeman since 1993. On the county board, he has served on the following committees: planning, zoning, and agriculture. Duane is a charter member of the Irwin Lions Club on which he served as president in 1972 and district governor in 1979-80. He is a member of St. James Catholic Church in Irwin and a member of the Knights of Columbus.