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Eugene 'Duke of Balboa' Dukette

August 11, 2010

Duke of Balboa died Aug. 7, 2010, after living 98 years and 8 months.

Eugene Dukette was born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in 1911 to Edward J. Dukette of Plattsburg, N.Y., and Lillian Bagnall Dukette from Manchester, England. The family settled in California where Eugene was raised.

During the Great Depression he found work at Chris-Craft boats in Los Angeles Harbor, and later joined Beverly Management Co. (BMC), a business management company for top screen stars. Gene moved to Balboa in 1940 in the employ of BMC, and in his spare time started a paddleboard rental business on the bay front which eventually included Pedalo boats. He was commonly called Duke along Edgewater, and tagged Duke of Balboa by a Douglas Aircraft test pilot living on Balboa Island. Friends sent him mail addressed simply –Duke, Balboa California.

Duke sold interests in the paddleboard business to the owner of BMC, and to Art LaShelle, proprietor of Christians Hut restaurant in Balboa. The three formed Grey Goose Concessions which eventually included paddleboards and Pedalo boats, Grey Goose resort apartments, cottages, beaches, boat slips and a café along the bay front. Duke and wife Catherine MacDonald Dukette managed the properties until the partnership dissolved. He moved to Hawaii helping open Christians Hut Honolulu, first as assistant manager, then manager. Returning to Balboa in 1958 he worked for Northrop Corporation in Anaheim until he retired.

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In later years Gene recorded a series of extensive oral interviews documenting Balboa history along Edgewater from 1940 to 1955.

He is survived by his son James E. Dukette of Corona del Mar, grandsons Jim M. and Tom of Santa Fe, N.M., and great-grandson Zachary in Albuquerque; also, by son Gregory E. Dukette and granddaughter Lora of Orange County. Duke enthusiastically supported Dukette Family Scholarship grants at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, and is buried at Pacific View Cemetery in Corona del Mar.

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