Duane J. Perszyk, age 71, of Minneapolis, passed away with family at his side.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Kathryn and Ed Perszyk, and sister, Mary Beth. Survived by his wife, Cyd Perszyk, children Aleyna Burevall (Pontus Wickbom Burevall), Ben Perszyk (McKenzie Phalen), and Sam Perszyk, and by his grandchildren, Anika and Phoenix Burevall, and by his brothers, David and John (Jennifer), and many nieces and nephews.
Du’s athletic prowess and zest for outdoor adventures were the foundation of his life. In high school, he held a state record in track, was captain of the football and track team, and received both academic and athletic scholarships to the University of Minnesota in Duluth. After two years in Duluth, he moved to the Minneapolis campus where he earned his undergraduate degree and a teaching certificate in English, and later, his master’s in education.
Du started his teaching career in the Eden Prairie district immediately after graduation from college, first at the middle school and then for more than 20 years at the high school. He created a humanities curriculum and inspired hundreds of students to enjoy reading and to appreciate the arts. He was a track and cross country running coach for many years, encouraging young athletes to share his love of running and the quest to achieve new personal bests.
Du ran several marathons and many 10K races in the Twin Cities. His true passion was adventure sports and he was most in his element in the mountains. Hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking; he loved and excelled at them all.
He and his brother took their boys and cousins on annual camping and rock climbing trips to South Dakota. He and his wife loved to trail run, cross-country ski, kayak, and bike together. The family spent spring breaks in the mountains of Colorado, and he made regular pilgrimages to the wilderness of the West Coast.
Together with his best friend Ben Husaby, a former student, they climbed and mountaineered in the Cascades, hiked the Redwoods, fly-fished the Deschutes River, kayaked the San Juans, and surfed the Oregon coast. Back in the flatlands, Du skied the Birkebeiner Nordic marathon and mountain biked the Chequamegon. A keen photographer, he documented his many adventures with beautiful photos.
After retiring, Du continued to seek new experiences, traveling to Nepal, the Galapagos Islands, and Cuba. He was a kid among kids, always ready to “go outside and play.” Family vacations and weekend activities centered around being outside.
When grandchildren arrived, “Opa” was a kid all over again, laughing and playing ball and rolling on the floor with them.
In addition to his athleticism, Du’s other gift was his ability to socialize and make people laugh. It was a gift that remained present even after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2015. He carried his sense of humor with him to the end, joking with his family, friends, nurses, and staff. He understood that life is to be enjoyed and he pursued that mission to its fullest. He loved to laugh, dance, eat and drink, and, mostly, to spend time with the friends and family he loved.
A special thanks to Jennifer and John for their ongoing support and visits with Du throughout his illness. A private memorial is planned.
To honor Du’s life, get outside. Memoriams to the Sierra Club are appreciated.
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