Friday, May 26, 2023
2:00 PM EDT
St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church
171 W. 13th Street
Holland, MI 49423
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Life Story / Obituary
Edward James Duffy passed away in Vienna, Austria, on May 6th, 2023 surrounded by loving family.
He was born October 15th, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. He is preceded in death by his parents Vincent and Lorraine Duffy; sister Patricia Duffy, brothers Jonathan “Patrick” and Michael Duffy.
He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Daniela Duffy, children Colleen, Vincent, Nicholas, and Katarina Duffy; sisters Barbara Taylor, Lorraine Castle (Thomas), Mary Crank and Elizabeth Luini; mother-in-law, Maria Dernovsek; sisters-in-laws, Kathy Duffy, Christine Duffy , Janet (Michael)Diem; brother -in- law Marco (Susanne) Dernovsek and 17 beloved nieces and nephews.
Moving to Holland, Michigan in 1950 was a dream come true for the family. The house they rented on 9th street backed up to Kollens Park. Having come from the South side of Chicago, living in a small apartment above a grocery store, the house was a mansion to them. His childhood was magical. They played in Kollens Park, picked blueberries, and enjoyed the quaint life of the 1950s. The family grew to 8 children and each one loved the other in the way only an Irish Catholic family can. Although there wasn’t much money for extravagances there was no shortage of laughter, love and family pride.
After graduating from Holland High in 1961 he enlisted in the Navy for 3 years, 2 months, and 1 day.
This was the beginning of his taste for what the world had to offer. He returned to Holland after serving his country and enjoyed some down time and performed in a few plays in The Holland Community Theater. He was a born entertainer and carried that quality into all his endeavors outside of the theater.
He was always a hard worker and got his work ethic from both his parents. He started delivering papers for The Holland Sentinel around the age of 9 and never stopped working. Work brought him joy and a sense of purpose and he imbued that joy into everyone he worked with and with those that worked for him.
He always loved fashion and had a flair that was unparalleled. His first break into the garment industry was repping Farah slacks for men. He got a territory, moved to Columbus, Ohio and became their top salesmen. His next big break came while living in Los Angeles, California. His lifelong love of baseball led him to joining a recreational league which led to meeting the man who would become his partner in China trade. They started a company, DZ Trading, in 1983 and that company is still thriving 40 years later, employing over 200 people spread out across the globe notably in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Mongolia, London and Vienna.
Many Hollanders might remember the DZ Cashmere Christmas Sales that started in 1999. Duffy was a generous man, not just with money but with his heart. 100% of the proceeds from these sales went to charities in Holland, the Boys and Girls Club and Resilience (once known as Women in Transition) were the closest to his heart. Another charity that was very meaningful to him was helping an organization, One Sky, bring early childcare and education to children born in the most poverty stricken areas in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
All that is quite an achievement, but his greatest legacy, the one he was most proud of, was his love of family and friends. Duffy was the patriarch of his family after his father died in 1987. He was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, uncle, and friend. He doted on his mother and was there for siblings, his wife and children, in-laws, nieces and nephew and friends. Generous both financially and emotionally, he was their protector. He made sure the family stayed together. He hosted family reunions in the summers, sometimes in Holland and sometimes in Europe where he lived with his wife and children for 32 years.
And he was more than a business and family man. He was a unique blend of entrepreneur, entertainer, epicurean, historian, and free spirit (one might even say Hippie. He always regretted not making it to Woodstock). He was an avid reader of world news and thought the Internet was the greatest thing ever because you could watch historical documentaries, CNN, Rachel Maddow and more - learning for free. He grew up in the Civil Rights Era and never lost his passion for politics and the underdog.
He was a lover of life, people, reading, learning, concerts, movies, great restaurants, a strong espresso, billiards, card games, backgammon, golf, and soaking up the sun on a summer’s day. These things he could never get enough of.
As his family we could never get enough of him. We will carry him in our hearts every day and miss him forever. The world will be a little less bright and a lot less cool.
A memorial mass will be 2:00 pm, Friday, May 26, 2023 at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, 171 W. 13th Street in Holland. Father Noah Thelen will be officiating. Burial will be in Pilgrim Home Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Boys and Girls Club, 435 Van Raalte Avenue, Holland, MI 49423 or Resilience, 411 Butternut Drive, Holland, MI 49424. Arrangements are by Dykstra Funeral Homes-Downtown Chapel.