W.J. Duke Dufresne

April 13, 1949 - Oct. 20, 2023

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WJ Duke Dufresne, known to many as ‘Bill’, passed away peacefully at his home in Sacramento, CA on October 20, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. Duke/Billy was born in Derby, CT to parents Francis J. Dufresne and Louise (Houghton) Dufresne on April 13, 1949. He grew up in Ansonia (Class of ’67) and went on to study Liberal Arts at Bates College in Maine. He earned a B.A. in Biology from UMass Boston, an M.D. in Medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine, and completed his residency at St. Clare’s Residency Program, now Ellis Hospital Family Medicine Residency in Schenectady, NY. Duke began his medical career in Kentucky in public health, serving underserved communities, and eventually settled in Upstate New York. During his short stint at Bates, Duke met the love of his life, Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Ireland, and married on September 19, 1970 at the Temple in Ocean Park, Maine. OP continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Duke’s family. Duke and Betty recently celebrated 53 years of adventurous marriage. Duke is survived by Betty and their three adoring children: Ben, Dylan, and Zachary. He was predeceased by his much loved brother, Robbie Dufresne. Duke was ever proud of his children and over the moon with his grandchildren, Ellie and Otto. Duke’s medical career took him many places, with Portland, ME being one of his favorites. He established a unique and broad-based career, passionately contributing to a wide range of organizations. Duke took great pride in his work as a medical professional, and helping those most in need. He delivered over 1,000 babies in his storied career, and continued to help folks with medical issues and advice up until his final days. His most recent position was Senior Medical Director at Tufts Health Public Plans. Recently retired, Duke and Betty moved to Sacramento, CA so they could enjoy the sunny weather and their grandchildren. Duke was the ‘fun’ guy in the family who loved good music (especially Pentatonix), good food (especially varied), and good booze. His absence will be sorely felt by his wife and kids; brother Rick Dufresne; sister Dina Dufresne; step-mother Loretta Dufresne; extended family; and many, many good friends and colleagues. We will all miss him dearly, from his worldly and sage advice, to his inclusivity and consideration for all and his incredible aptitude for doing for others. A private celebration of life will be held in the summer in CT. Duke has chosen to have his body composted into new growth forest. You are invited to send condolences to Duke was a supporter of many causes, one of which was Doctors Without Borders and we encourage donations in his honor.


Leave the earth with beauty

Earth specializes in soil transformation, an environmentally-friendly alternative to burial and cremation. Over a 45-day process, we gently transform a body into nutrient-rich soil. We then send this soil to our local conservation land where it’s used for restoration projects such as reforestation and nourishing challenged ecosystems.

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