Darren 'Duke' Bender

Passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, after a valiant two-year battle with lymphoma. An actor at Umpqua Actors Community Theatre and an active promoter of new approaches to economic development in Douglas County, he will be missed by many in the community. Born in Port Chester, New York, on March 12, 1954, Duke attended Northwestern University, graduating in 1975 with a degree in drama, whereupon he moved to New York City to pursue a career as an actor. To help support his artistic endeavors, he worked in market research, eventually becoming an account executive with PERT Market Research in West Hartford, Connecticut. In 1998, he moved to San Francisco to work as a market research project manager for Clorox and Visa.

In 1997, Duke met Loraine Nightingale on a vacation in Mexico. They married in San Francisco in 2000 and moved to Roseburg, Oregon in early 2002, where he became a self-employed market research consultant.

While continuing his work in market research, Duke also became active in the Coalition for Good Governance, spearheading an effort to broaden the County’s approach to economic development. He advocated programs to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, as a complement to the existing efforts to recruit larger businesses. He also taught marketing classes for small business through Neighborworks Umpqua.

At Umpqua Actors Community Theatre, Duke acted in a number of plays, including “Art” and “The Boys Next Door.” He also produced and directed a performance of “This I Believe” and was President of the Board of Directors of UACT in 2010.

A lover and student of fine wine, he also worked part-time at the Abacela Vineyards tasting room. His knowledge and curiosity for the intricacies of the grape are known to all of those who love him.

To all of his projects and associations, Duke brought a keen intelligence, a lively sense of humor, and a passion for understanding problems and finding effective solutions. His thoughtfulness and genuine interest in others brought him many loyal friends, who will miss him sorely.

He is survived by his wife, Lori Nightingale-Bender of Roseburg; his mother, Sondra Louise Bender of Boynton Beach, Florida; his brothers: Curt Bender of Oakland, California; and Neal Bender of Los Angeles, California; as well as many other loved ones.

Donations in Duke’s memory can be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2013, from 1-4 p.m, at Umpqua Actors Community Theatre in Roseburg. Oregon.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 30, 2013 10:13PM Published May 24, 2013 05:56PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.