SHEFFIELD — Duane Leo Wirth, 78, of Sheffield died Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, on his beloved farm, Ponderosa Wilderness.

He was born Aug. 24, 1941, in Kewanee, the son of Edward Lee and Mabel Marie (Specht) Wirth. Duane graduated from Manlius High School with the Class of 1959. He was a lifelong member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

He was self-employed as a livestock and grain farmer nearly all of his life. His love of operating heavy equipment led to his entrepreneurship of many other businesses, such as trucking, excavating and commercial mowing. He established the Ponderosa Wilderness as a hunting, camping and fishing club to share his enthusiasm of the outdoors. Duane was also the Mineral Township road commissioner and Bureau County Speedway track manager.

Duane was a member of the Midwest Pool League for 30 years. He played cards with his poker-playing buddies for the majority of his life. He excelled at racing stock cars in Sterling, Peoria and East Moline during the 1960s and '70s. He loved to be around groups of people and had many friends.

Duane is survived by five children, LaDonna (Mark) Mazzorana of Hannibal, Mo., Julia Wirth-Oxyer of Davenport, Iowa, Nevin (Adriane Baker) Wirth of Sheffield, Edward Wirth of Sheffield and Andrew (Michelle) Wirth of Buda; 14 grandchildren, Garrett, Cody, Will, Felicia, Zachary, Aliza, Zackary, Mason, Alexandrya, Nicole, Lauren, Taylor, Wyatt and Phoenix; three great-grandchildren, Zoey, Fiona and Embryss; one foster sister, Dorothy "Dottie" Stephenson of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Leroy and Lt. Eugene F. Wirth.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sheffield with Father Mark Miller officiating. Burial will take place in St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetery in Sheffield.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at the Grant-Johnson Funeral Home in Princeton, where a rosary will be recited at 3:30 p.m.

Memorials may be directed to the Sheffield Fire and Rescue.

Online condolences may be sent to

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