Raymond E. Duda, 90, “Local Agricultural Legend” of Easthampton
Raymond E. Duda, 90, “Local Agricultural Legend” of Easthampton passed away on March 13, 2021 after a period of failing health. Born on August 23, 1930 he was the son of the late Edward S. and Jennie (Boucher) Duda. He was educated in the Easthampton Public Schools and was the 3rd generation operating the Duda Tobacco and Dairy Farm located on East Street, Easthampton. The farm was later known as Lazy D Farms and developed into what was considered to be one of the largest dairy farms in Massachusetts comprising of some 400 head of dairy cattle and 550 acres of farmland. The dairy herd was dispersed in 1988 and the farm was then converted into a lawn and garden center that ran for several years. He later sold the original farm homestead to a religious organization that is now known as the God is Love Church.
He developed Mt. View Estates and Duda Drive; a fourteen-home subdivision located in Easthampton. In 1979 Ray was appointed by Governor King to the Massachusetts Board of Food and Agriculture and served until 1986. In 1980, under the Reagan / Bush Administration he was appointed as Massachusetts State Executive Director of A.S.C.S. now known as The Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He served in that position until 1993.
Many of his lifetime accomplishments included in 1974 he was awarded Massachusetts Outstanding Dairyman of the year. In 1980 he received the outstanding Citizen’s Award from the Easthampton Grange. In 1984 he received a certificate of appreciation from A.S.C.S. / U.S.D.A. for outstanding leadership and dedication, and in 1990 he received the Administrator’s Award for service to Agriculture, the agency’s highest U.S.D.A. award.
Ray was a close friend of the late Silvio O. Conte and has served 10 years as President of the Silvio O. Conte Education Foundation Scholarship Fund.
Ray served 25 years as Director and Executive Committee member of the former United Savings Bank. He was President of the Three County Fair Association in 1979-1980 and again in 1998-1999. In 2007 he was elected Chairman of the Three County Fair Grounds Redevelopment Corporation.
Ray served as President in 1993-1994 of the Massachusetts Agricultural Club which is considered to be the oldest continuous agricultural club in the country. He was a Town Meeting Member of Easthampton, member of the Easthampton Rotary Club and served as Vice President of the Pulaski Club of Easthampton.
In 2001 he was appointed by the Bush Administration as Member of the Massachusetts Farm Service Agency State Committee of the U.S.D.A.
Ray’s other lifetime activities included, Member of the National Dairy Shrine Club, Director of Hampshire Country Farm Bureau, Delegate to the Agri-Mark Milk Cooperative, Member of the Farmers Home Administration Committee, Member of the Northampton Livestock Auction Cooperative Committee, and the Massachusetts Dairy Farmers Seminar Committee. He was the founder of Dairymen for Quality Products Inc.
He also served on the advisory Board of The Department of Animal Sciences of the University of Massachusetts. He was a member of the Agricultural Advisory Board of Smith Vocational Agricultural High School and was accepted as an Honorary Member of the school’s chapter of the Future Farmers of America.
Over the years he spent many enjoyable moments with his family, friends and relatives at his popular White Tail Hunting Lodge located in Huntington, MA. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, golf, and many areas of travel that he and his wife Josephine were involved in with their many friends.
He was a member of the former Sacred Heart Parish in Easthampton and now Our Lady of The Valley Parish.
He is survived by his wife Josephine of 60 years, a daughter Mary Lepine (David) of Easthampton, a son R. Gene Duda (Nanci) of Huntington; six grandchildren, Gabrielle Duda, Alexis Duda, Chantel Duda, Amanda Stanislas (Marc), Luke Lepine and Ian McNeish. Three great grandchildren Henri Stanislas, Andre Stanislas, Penelope Doung and One brother Mathias Duda of Huntington. He was predeceased by a sister Ann Melnick and a brother Edward Duda. He also leaves many nieces and nephews and lifelong friends.
Calling hours will be held this Friday, March 19 from 4-7PM at the Boucher – O’Brien Funeral Home, 7 Pleasant Street, Easthampton. His Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday 11AM at Our Lady of The Valley Parish, 33 Adams St, Easthampton. A private burial will be held for family at a later date.
The family would like to thank the Mount Marie Rehabilitation nurses and staff for outstanding care and compassion that was given to Raymond during his stay.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Raymond E. and Josephine T. Agricultural Scholarship Fund in c/o The Three County Fair Association, P.O. Box 305, Northampton, MA 01060
Masks and Social Distancing protocols to be observed.