The youngest of 4 brothers, Duane was born in Grafton on August 13, 1938, to Raymond and Florence (Hanna) Littlejohn. He graduated from St. Thomas High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of North Dakota, marrying his high school sweetheart, Carol (Larson) Littlejohn in 1959. They have been married for almost 62 years.
Duane’s high school music teacher, Elmer Anderson, helped Duane develop his singing ability, which led Duane to become a soloist for the men’s vocal touring group at UND, the Varsity Bards. Duane also became a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, serving as social chair and as president of the fraternity. (The same high school music teacher was also a Lambda Chi and suggested that Duane check out the fraternity.) He was passionate about his fraternity and cherished the friendships he made there, often saying that coming from a small town, he knew no one when he first went to UND. If it were not for Lambda Chi, he would never have had the opportunity to meet the guys who were his best friends in life. He continued his service to the fraternity as an alumnus, volunteering his time throughout the years, and he was one of its major benefactors.
Duane loved to make music his entire life, singing and playing his guitar, often singing at funerals and weddings. After college, he toured the area, playing and singing as a solo act in county fairs, before starting his first band, The Wives and Lovers, with his wife Carol on drums. His last band was the Christian Brothers, a rock and roll cover band that played in venues all over the Red River Valley and points west. He loved to sing patriotic songs in parades, conventions and festivals in the area. Even after he left the Christian Brothers to focus on his insurance career, Duane kept singing – to relax and unwind after the day’s work. His great pride in his home state inspired Duane to write and record a song for North Dakota’s Centennial, “North Dakota is the Place for You and Me,” and he felt privileged to perform the song for a crowd of thousands at the Centennial Celebration in Bismarck.
Never one to sit still, Duane served on the St. Thomas City Council for many years. He was a member of the Park Board as well as the Community Betterment Association and was instrumental in developing Hagar Park in St. Thomas, turning an open field into a playground, baseball park, football field, tennis courts and picnic shelter.
Duane also loved to fish for walleye on Lake of the Woods, and whenever he traveled to the ocean, he found time to deep sea fish, too. Duane loved to travel, at first by pulling a travel trailer all over the United States and into Canada. Duane and Carol also traveled with friends from the area, leaving the camper behind and traveling by air, although Duane always preferred to drive because he loved to see the countryside.
Duane was immensely proud of his children and grandchildren. His daughter Kim was in the insurance business with him, and his son Jay practiced law in Minneapolis. His elder grandson, Geoff, is a Seabee in the U.S. Navy, and his younger grandson, Alex, is a mechanical engineer in the Twin Cities.
The last of his generation of Littlejohns in St. Thomas, Duane was preceded in death by his 3 brothers, Earl, Harvey and Keith, as well as his parents. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. On May 8, 2021, a walk-through visitation will be held in the St. Thomas Methodist church from 9:30 to 11 a.m. (masks required) with a Celebration of Life immediately following, to be held in the front yard of Duane and Carol’s home at 210 Fifth Avenue in St. Thomas, across from the church. The graveside service will then be held at the St. Thomas City Cemetery, followed by lunch, back in the front yard. All services and lunch will be outside, to allow friends and family to safely gather to remember Duane. Memorials to St. Thomas Methodist Church.