Tributes are paid following death of ‘Grandpa Idaho’

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A local student will represent generations of Manx scholars at the memorial service of a man who provided them with a home from home when they arrived in the USA.

Duane LeTourneau died last week at the age of 86.

From 1984 and 2009, Duane and his wife Phyllis welcomed 42 Department of Education Ella Olesen scholars into their home for the first few days of their year at the University of Idaho.

They were neighbours of Ella Olesen, who was of Manx descent and after whom the scholarship is named.

Former Ella Olesen scholar Katie Taylor, who is back doing a PhD, will attend the service on June 26. She previously presented the couple with an illuminated address – a certificate signed by then Education Minister Eddie Teare – as thanks for their hospitality.

The LeTourneaus were known to their ‘girls’ as ‘Granny and Grandpa Idaho’.

John Gill of the DEC said: ‘We at the DEC are very sorry to learn of the death of Duane LeTourneau who, along with his wife, Phyllis, provided a warm welcome and a home from home in Idaho to generations of students from the island who were awarded the annual scholarship. The fact students maintained contact with the couple, many years after completing their studies, shows the affection in which they were held. Our sympathies are with the LeTourneau family at this sad time.’

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