duvall michaelMUHLENBERG COUNTY, KY - I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. Let us rejoice in what was a pretty cool life along my Yellow Brick Road. I, Michael E. Duvall, was loved — from the day I was born on Dec. 14, 1949, in Madisonville, to the day I passed away, April 7, 2012.

Already awaiting my arrival in Emerald City are those who passed before me: my parents, Cecil and Mary Lucille (Morgan) Duvall, my niece Amy, and my first son, Jonathon M. Duvall. I've thought a lot about Jonathon over the years, and I look forward to our reunion.

Left here in the Land of Oz are my beloved Munchkins and maybe a Flying Monkey or two. I wouldn't dare say which is which. There's my soul mate and wife of 41 years, Kim Powers Duvall of Sacramento; son Michael S. Duvall and wife Robin of Clarksville, Tenn., and their children Brittany, Bryce and Brock; son Benjamin A. Duvall and wife Jaime of Bremen, and their kids Ava, Anson and Asher; and daughter Summer Duvall Case of Sacramento and her children Christopher and Cathlene. My siblings include my brother Patrick Duvall, and three sisters: Cecelia McKnight and her husband Carlos "Bubba" McKnight, who were like parents to me; Sandra West and her husband Dr. Bill West; and Nancy Clayton and her husband Jerry Clayton. Jerry and I were best friends growing up. We joined the Army together, and he liked me so much he joined my family. Now that's a friend. I can't forget my beloved pups, Alvin, Theodore, Lili and Toto, to whom I've left all my worldly possessions. OK, there's no Toto. Too bad — that would have really fit my theme here.

To the children in my life, I was "Gramps." And a proud Gramps I was. My children, my grandchildren and my nieces and nephews were my heartbeat, the air I breathed. Like the trusty Scarecrow, I guess I had a brain all along. I loved to teach my kids and grandkids. I leave this world with great comfort knowing that because of me, they know "righty tighty, lefty loosey," how to ride a bike, and what amazing wonders a shoestring can work when your windshield wipers break during a thunderstorm. I was always a pretty laid-back dude, a "Mello Mushroom," as my granddaughter once said. Some might even call me a hippie. The way I saw it, life's trials and tribulations were mere bumps in the road. Just like the Tin Man, I got my heart — except mine was purple.

I had left Madisonville High School between my junior and senior year to join the Army. During the Vietnam War, I was awarded the Purple Heart after I was wounded by enemy gunfire. My sister had sent me a St. Christopher's medal to hang around my neck just weeks before the ambush, and that likely saved my life when the bullet hit it. The bullet entered my chest, but it missed my heart. And now you know why one of my grandsons is named Christopher. After the war, I picked up 15-year-old Kim for our first date. I drove up in an old Buick with a red, white and blue peace sign painted on the hood. My hair was starting to grow out, and I was rocking the bell bottoms and bare feet. My friends called me "Doobie" back then. I have no idea why. "You're not getting in the car with that," Kim's dad, Ken Powers, told her. She flashed him the peace sign, hopped in my Buick, and we never looked back. We married on Oct. 22, 1971, in Sacramento. Together, there was nothing we couldn't overcome. And ol' Ken eventually came around. He and Alberta Powers, Kim's mom, went on to love me more than Auntie Em and Uncle Henry loved Dorothy.

I was an avid reader (Stephen King was my favorite author) and a pretty good golfer. I got a hole-in-one on Hole No. 6 at the Royal Cypress Golf Club in Sacramento on Aug. 19, 1996. Until my last days, I could outrun anyone and anything. Kim says I ran so fast I kicked myself in the butt. I suppose she was right. For years, I outran this wicked cancer. And like the Cowardly Lion, I found courage that even I didn't know I had as I fought it. A little more than a month ago, Kim and I enjoyed one last adventure, riding out a tornado (you can't make this stuff up) in our car beneath an underpass with our dogs. I was so proud of Kim's courage (there's a brave Lion in her, too), and thanked God for our safety. Today, there's no more running. I am at rest. I am at peace. Ol' Gramps is headed home. So click your heels (four times for me), and don't you dare be sad. It's just another bump in the Yellow Brick Road.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Tucker Memorial Chapel in Sacramento, conducted by Rev. Roy Gene Ellis, with burial to follow in the Gish Cemetery in Bremen. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday and after 8 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

Online expressions of condolence can be made at www.tuckerfuneralhomes.com.

Posted on 2/2/14

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