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Community mourns passing of Duryea Warn, 97
Duryea Warn
Duryea Warn in recent years. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Longtime Ceres resident Duryea Nathan Warn died Friday at the age of 97, leaving many residents remembering his role in the community.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Mr. Warn at the Heritage Chapel of Lakewood Memorial Park & Funeral Home, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15. The family requests that remembrances be made to the Alexander Cohen Hospice House of Hughson.

Mr. Warn was born in Turlock on July 16, 1921and graduated from Turlock High School and Modesto Junior College. He served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was a tail-gunner on B-26 bombers who carried out 25 missions over England, France, Germany and Belgium. Duryea survived Nazi ground-to-air flak and two crash landings. Warn’s second crash on Feb. 24, 1945 was caused when flak from German 88 mm guns damaged the plane’s hydraulic system. The pilot landed the plane on its belly but a harrowing experience followed when a second plane nearly collided with it while on the runway. The navigator of that plane, Kenneth T. Brown, wrote about the Roye-Ami, France crash in his book, “Marauder Man.”

A year after his wedding to Arleen Buck in 1947, Duryea began a 33-year career with the Ceres Post Office. It was located in the same building as the old Ceres Drug Store at the northwest corner of Fourth and Lawrence streets. Jack Gondring was postmaster at the time and Duryea remembered the soda fountain that town druggist Claude “Bud” McKnight operated inside. In the 1950s the post office moved north on Fourth Street opposite the drug store.

Mr. Warn is remembered by some old-timers as the man who gave children rides on a miniature train at the old Ceres Drive-In.

Duryea was a member of the Air Force Gunners Association and the 391st Bomb Group Association. He was also a member of a Barber Shop Quartet, enjoyed playing the piano and organ, and traveling with his wife in their motorhome.

He leaves behind his wife of 72 years, Arleen Buck Warn of Ceres; two sons, Steven D. Warn (Dianne) and Jeff L. Warn (Robin); his brother, Dale W. Warn of Turlock; and eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by son Richard N. Warn.

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Duryea Warn during his service in World War II. - photo by Contributed