Duane Cousins, 86, of Benton, a longtime resident of Fort Smith and Van Buren, passed away Tuesday, June 11, 2019 in Little Rock. He served as President of Kay Chair Co. in Van Buren from 1976 to 1989. While he is remembered as an energetic, non-stop worker, he is most known as a man with an intense loyalty and love for his family.
Born June 7, 1933 in Moorcroft, WY, Duane was the first-born son of the late Raymond and Thelma Cousins. He was educated in Kansas City, and graduated from Shawnee Mission High School and Kansas State University where he played halfback on the football team. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, KS after graduation and moved to Fort Smith in 1958 to help his father start a fledgling furniture business. This business later evolved into Kay Chair Co., Kenline, and Kay Chair 2, businesses that supported over 200 employees and which he ran alongside his father and two brothers, Fred and Jerry Cousins. Duane was an avid advocate for youth programs, volunteering with the Boy Scouts and coaching several championship church league baseball teams. He was also a legendary high school football referee, serving the Arkansas Official’s Association for 42 years and refereeing over 800 games. In 2013 he was inducted into the Arkansas Activities Association Officiating Hall of Fame for his service. After Kay Chair, Duane continued his career with numerous furniture manufacturers as a sales representative and worked tirelessly for over 30 years. He was recognized for his lifetime contributions to furniture manufacturing with induction into the Arkansas Homefurnishings Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
Duane is survived by his children: David D. Cousins and his wife Ellen of Minnetonka, MN; grandchildren, Brad, Taylor, Greg, and Charlie; Sandra C. Smith and her husband Allen of Littleton, CO; grandchildren, Hannah and Matt; and Michael C. Cousins and his wife Carol of Westfield, MA; grandchildren, Rachel, Lindsay, and Carter. Additionally two great-grandchildren, James and Marian from his grandson, Brad and his wife Adrienne. He is also survived by two brothers, Fred and his wife Murlene of Fort Smith, Jerry and his wife Carolyn of Rogers, AR; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Duane is predeceased by his parents, Raymond C. and Thelma L. Cousins, longtime residents of Fort Smith.
Duane’s family would like to thank the staff of the ICU at Baptist Health Center in Little Rock for the loving care they provided. A memorial service will be held on Thursday June 20th, at Edwards Funeral Chapel at 11am. Calling hours will be Wednesday June 19th at Edwards from 6-8 pm. Services are under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.
Memorial donations may be made to the Duane Cousins Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1626, Westfield, Massachusetts 01086.
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