James A. Duerk, 88, of Naples, Florida, passed away peacefully December 24, 2018 in Naples.
Duerk was Born in Defiance, Ohio on July 13, 1930, the son of Karl A. and Alice Bybee Duerk. He graduated from Defiance High School in 1948 and attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, where he studied journalism and political science.
Duerk spent nearly 20 years in federal and state politics and government, serving as press assistant to U.S. Rep Oliver P. Bolton R-Ohio (1964), Director of Public Relations for the Ohio Republican Party (1965-1969), Press Secretary for Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes (1969-l971), Press Secretary for U.S. Senator William B. Saxbe R-Ohio (1973), and Confidential Assistant to U.S. Attorney General William B. Saxbe (1974).
As Ohio Development Director, he conducted negotiations for the deal that led to the 1977 decision by Honda Motor Co. of Japan to establish automotive assembly operations in Ohio that provides thousands of jobs for Ohio workers, plus many thousands more jobs for Ohio auto parts suppliers and businesses.
From 1983 to 1994, Duerk was president of James A. Rhodes & Associates, Columbus, Ohio real estate development firm. Before entering politics and government, Duerk was public affairs reporter and sports editor of the Bowling Green, Ohio Sentinel-Tribune, circulation manager and public affairs reporter for the Defiance, Ohio Crescent-News, and public relations representative for Columbia Gas of Ohio, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio.
Duerk was a member of Stonebridge Country Club in Naples, Florida, Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Ohio Commodores Association.
Duerk is survived by his wife, Mary Jayne, daughters Karla A. Goodwin, Richwood, Ohio, Kathryn O'Neil, Marysville, Ohio, and Kristin Kern, Gainesville, Georgia; 17 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and stepsons, Robert P. Slayton and Ryan P. Slayton, both of the Columbus, Ohio area.
A memorial service will be held at Hill Funeral Home, 220 S. State St., Westerville, Ohio on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Alzheimer's Association