Naty Zamora about Duane

Our family first met Duane in Fort Bidwell where we were herding sheep.  We had recently left Mexico in the hunt for a better life.  Our daughter Aurora was 6 weeks old when Duane ran into us.  He started our family’s social life.  Before we knew it, we were invited to the Sunday BBQ gatherings of the local community.

We have kept in touch with Duane for over 30+ years and have always remained very good friends. We have visited each other many times.  This summer, Duane is visiting us with a 12-year old student from the Czech Republic.

Duane has always been very encouraging of our family members’ successes; our 3 children have Master’s Degrees.

Irina Walker

Hello, my name is Irina Walker, I’m from Russia and I moved to the US for a job decades ago.  Duane has shown his generous personality and true friendship through a variety of ways and ultimately, has changed my life as it relates to motorcycles.

I am a very adventurous and independent woman and started riding motorcycles and going to different rallies upon arriving to the US.  I met Duane at the 49er’s Rally more than 10 years ago and we instantly became friends.  Duane had a BMW motorcycle dealership in Marin and he and his then-wife, Linda, traveled extensively in Russia, so we had a lot in common.  We enjoyed talking about motorcycles and Russia.  Duane and Linda invited me to their home and gave me a tour. This is where I first saw a motorcycle in the living room — and I loved it!  Also at their house I met a wonderful student from the Czech Republic, Veronika.  She was delighted to have this wonderful experience of living and studying in the US.

Duane also helped my then-boyfriend, Ricardo, who had a small business.  His business was famous for the ergonomic design of the handlebars for BMW motorcycles.  Duane shared his tips with Ricardo to optimize Google search to bring his company first and changed the outlook of his business, essentially changing his life, too!

A decade later Duane continues to help me.  I know that if I need any advise on anything about motorcycles, Duane is the go-to person!  He always helps me to get the best expert advice.  Recently, I decided to buy a new motorcycle.  Duane introduced me to his long-time friend, Rod, and we all three researched and found just the right motorcycle for me.  Thank you, Duane!!

Gabriela Stepinska about Duane

I first met Duane over 4 years ago at a friend’s barbecue in Clayton, CA, where I was spending my summer. Despite him pulling magic tricks on me and trying me with sharp jokes and comments, I quickly began to like him. Right then, he struck me as a very unusual person, but I had no idea how exceptional he really was.

As I kept coming back to California each summer, we spent more time together. I would join him on his trips to cell sites and we could never get enough of talking.

One summer, two years ago, Duane took me along on a trip across the US to visit his friends and family.

Little did I know — this road trip was about to change my life.

Thanks to Randy, a friend of Duane’s, whom I met at a BMW Rally in Cedar Point, Arkansas, I went to Tanzania to serve a community hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, as a volunteer. For the first time in my life I was exposed to the crashingly sad situation of medical care in third world countries.

Here’s a link to my blog, which I ran while being in Tanzania: https://africaorbust2014.wordpress.com/

Upon my return to Poland, I decided to take action in order help people from St. Joseph Hospital. What at first was just a student project, became a non-profit SASA Foundation. Our aim is to obtain financial support for hospitals struggling due to a lack of medical supplies. Additionally, we seek to help medical students by expanding their knowledge and skills and providing them with real world experience, while they work as our ambassadors in supported hospitals.

We are on a roll; we’ve already sent one box of basic medical supplies with a young Polish doctor, who went to Tanzania for a four-month long mission. Currently, we’re working on sending a box of 200kg of medical equipment, as well as our ambassador, to St. Joseph Hospital.

With help from other people, persistence and hard-work I hope that we’ll be able to make a change in this small part of the world. As the president of the SASA Foundation, I want to fight for the rights of all the patients in the world to receive proper medical care. I’m starting with my dearest St. Joseph Hospital in Moshi, Tanzania.

All of this could not have happened if I did not know Duane.

Duane has taught me that all things are possible. We are the ones who are responsible for our own choices and for the course our life is going to take. Pretty much anything that we imagine becomes doable if we break it into pieces and follow our plan. The only limitation is the one we set ourselves. How is it possible to be a Ham Radio expert, have a pilot license, teach in Europe, visit almost all of the continents (including Antarctic) and then retire at the age of 33? Well, I guess only Duane knows how to do that, but he’s given us a great example that these doors are open for us too.

So, as I’ve been trying to follow his example, positive things have started happening in my life.

I’m currently a third-year medical student, pursuing an MD degree at the Medical University in Warsaw. After graduation I plan to apply for residency in the US and practice medicine as an orthopedic surgeon there.

Here’s a link to my crowdfunding campaign on Gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/sasafoundation

Any positive change that I make will be thanks to Duane. Any patient who receives adequate and sufficient treatment from the SASA Foundation, will be an outcome of the influence that he has had and continues to have on me. Any person, whom I’ll help in the future as a doctor, would experience from me the caring, welcoming approach, which Duane has showed through his ways.

There’s a pure goodness in his incessant trials to connect with people around him. As he goes through his days, he can’t resist to occasionally strike up a conversation with a stranger. Duane not only notices attractive women ( 🙂 ), but he also pays attention to the people who are troubled, sad and lost (in every sense of the word). I have not seen one person who wouldn’t be cheered and lifted up after Duane approached her or him.

Above all, he is the connector who brings people together and gathers them around him.

Without a doubt, it is almost impossible to put into words and describe how Duane changed my life. Myself, and so many other people, who’ve met Duane, will agree with me, that the influence can only be seen through our actions. I believe that this is what Duane would like to see.

Duane, isn’t it wonderful to know that thousands, and maybe eventually even millions of people around the world have been directly or indirectly helped by you in some sense?

Every day, I thank for You, my dear friend, father and my soul-mate.

Andrew Allan about Duane

Changed my life? Naw! I am too much like him, secure in my own certainty and belief that the rest of the world is out of line with reality and wandering blindly down the rose-colored glasses path to self-delusion and perdition. We have always gotten along because we each mine the world for ideas and improvements, seeing incremental progress in a better light switch, a more logically placed cup holder, a time-saving klemfedderspanner (I actually have one in my tool box), the polyglot, the arcane, the outre and the brainstorm. What others call nuts, crazy, a waste of time, is to both Duane and I, well worth exploration for the unrefined ore that may lurk within. We suffer fools poorly and dismiss empty rhetoric with well-deserved disdain. Our mutual advice to the world of business, and politics specifically, is “shut up and try something useful so we can find out if you can do the job”. A long-suffering friend of our mutual acquaintance once tagged us both as Aspergers’ syndromites. We laughed uproariously. It is simpler than that; it is easier to ignore that and those which are not interesting than to exert vast energies accommodating an uncomprehending throng.

So changed my life? No. But enriched it by recognition of another unique and rebellious personality who spits in the eye of convention because the alternatives are vastly more interesting! Absolutely!

Andrew Allan

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Comment by Vanessa
In about 1983, Duane got a contract job with SRI (Stanford Research International) to use his skill with Morse code to work on a spy program. That led to SRI hiring him to lead the field survey crew for the NEXRAD weather radar known as Doppler radar that we see daily in weather forecasting. He pulled in a couple of friends who were quite technical and willing to do hard work. One was Andy Allan. Here is his very interesting answer to my request for a comment about Duane.

 

Dan Gordon about Duane

Duane Ausherman has been my godfather since birth. He was a true and trusted friend of my parents before I was born. My family lived in a very rural area, so I was not exposed to much. When I was 13, I went on the first, of many, summer trips with Duane between school years. I got to meet many people, all very smart, interesting and some even famous. He changed my life in so many ways that I couldn’t even begin to explain here.

Summer 1979
This was quite a trip, one that would change my life forever. Fresh out of 7th grade, full of energy and curiosity, I had never been west of Arkansas, except for a trip as a small child. Like most 13 year olds, I was naive to the ways of the world, but over the course of the next 3 summers that would change. This is a brief account of my first summer trip spent with my Godfather, Duane Ausherman.

This summer would prove to be one of the most enlightening and exciting experiences of my life.
From the stockyards of Kansas, to Pikes Peak in Colorado, to the Great Salt Lake, to the Nevada dessert, to beautiful northern California we traveled. From meeting aunts and uncles I had never met, to visiting the Queen Mary and Disneyland, to roller skating on the beach in Santa Monica with dear friends. At a real Wild West show in Colorado, I was taken on stage as volunteer in a major part of the act by one of Duane’s friends, the star gun fighter.

We left the hot and dry western Arkansas hills in a small Toyota truck with California as the destination. My return trip would be on an airplane, my first and by myself. The plan was to take about ten days to get to the west coast where we would continue to travel, visit and explore. Much to my amazement we didn’t stay at a single motel or campground the entire way. We stayed with friends and family in Duane’s vast network, with whom many I stayed in contact. Each one of these places held unique and interesting things to learn and people to meet. Everywhere we stayed the people where so nice and hospitable. I got to hear about, discuss and see all sorts of neat things from interesting people, all of whom had a huge impact on me. From people that fly airplanes, build custom motorcycles, travel the world, own businesses and even stuntmen, to name a few. This instilled in me a sense of drive and motivation. I also hiked mountains, rode ATV’s and antique motorcycles, rode trains, flew on planes, swam in the ocean and helped navigate big cities, just to name a few.

I definitely came back to Arkansas a very different and much more educated 13 year old boy. I could not wait to go experience the world even more the next summer.

We traveled to many places including Glacier National Park, Old faithful, Yellowstone, Idaho, Oregon, California, and even into Canada. We spent some time at Fort Bidwell, CA. Duane’s remote Motorcycle shop/museum. One of the highlights here for me was riding one of Duane’s three antique R52 1928 BMW motorcycles. Yes, he had three running motorcycles of that model.

This was also a great area to fly small planes in and out of, which we did. I got to drive a lot this summer as well. Getting my license the following year was a breeze as I had more open road driving and riding experience than any other kid I knew.

Duane helped shape me into the independent successful business person that I am today. Duane has a great network of people and has always shared it with me. I trust him to help others as he did me, if only they are willing to open up to the vast possibilities.

Dan Gordon

Ji Young Lim about Duane

From the conservative view point of South Korea, Duane represents all and every opposite view of what my culture has taught me throughout life. From the day we met firstly in 2006, he started instilling in me his unconventional wisdom especially about staying out of the comfort zone and eventually he became my inspiration and mentor. After the encounter, I worked my way to become a business person ditching my 12+ year career as a professional pianist. It was the best decision ever; I now travel at least 10 times a year, meet tons of new and amazing people, and live life full of happiness and appreciation with constant and exciting adventures. It was Duane who helped me turn my dream into a reality.

In 2006 when I accidently met Duane at my friend’s house in Vegas, I was an accomplished pianist, but an unhappy one. Although I had just won a music competition in California for the seventh time and had a $10,000 scholarship, I had no clue what to do in the future. I desperately wanted to run away from music, which controlled my life since I was very young; I had been in a highly competitive performing arts schools in Korea that mandated me to practice 6-7 hours a day without many breaks/vacations from age 11. As Duane usually does whenever finding a person who does not live their full potential, he started talking to me and gradually breaking my boundaries, showing me possibilities of life that are realized only when getting out of the comfort zone. I devoured his teaching and eventually took a big bet of accepting his outrageous suggestion – traveling alone through his network, a.k.a. the strangers, for a month before my US visa expires.

Only that appalling concept of traveling turned out to be the most exciting thing that happened in my life. I still remember how my heart thumped so badly right before getting off the Greyhound station in Spokane to meet my first host family, Michele and Pete. Crime movies and media about American life I had seen had influenced me to think that this family could turn out something scary at any moment. (As if it will ever be!) All the six families I met in a month gradually, but definitely, changed my mentality. I learned that openness and honesty – although it may make you feel vulnerable – connect you with just anyone to live your life richer and fuller.

I enjoyed my travel so much that I instantly dropped my 12+ years of piano skills in Korea and changed my major to business, which allows one to travel the world and meet people. I enjoyed my career throughout Nielsen, Philip Morris, and a startup and now I am back in the US as a student at Kellogg (Northwestern) Business School. In the future, my goal is to be another Duane Ausherman to someone who needs encouragement and support as I did. I know the magic of Duane – conversations to see through people in need, willingness to encourage them to be their best, and supporting them by connecting people together – and how it often changes a life.

Zak Vetter about Duane

Duane was friends with my parents before they were married, so I have known him my whole life. It is only in the last 6 years that I began to cultivate a close friendship with him. He was instrumental in guiding me into my first contract job, an area that both my family and I were completely ignorant. What would have likely been a job that I declined, Duane transformed into a 5 year job that was both satisfying, profitable and a valuable new line to my work history.
He was able to articulate how the contract environment ran which in turn, gave me the confidence to negotiate my relations with the companies that hired me and to cut my ties when conditions were not favorable.
Since then Duane has been a weekly part of my life in almost any area that he and I talk. He has a keen problem solving mind and a knack for thinking through the details that I overlook in my haste to complete a project. He jokingly calls calls himself a troublemaker for pointing out potential problems, but he and I both know that, if anything, he is preventing problems.
He carries a wide range of wisdom compiled from a lifetime of work all over the globe and the confidence that comes form having done most of it with his own hands, rather than attending a class on the subject. Once you recognize a person like that, you hold onto them and learn from them all that they will tell you.

Otto Kafka about Duane

Several years ago Duane made the comment, “If  I were a young man, I would go to the Czech Republic and teach English.”  That stuck with me because my family history is connected to CR.

I attempted to make the arraignments through my University (UOP) to get a grant in order to go to Czech Republic. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the grant and I was unsure how I was going to be able to afford the trip.  Weeks later I was on a service call fixing a TV for a client and I talked about my future plans after college, which was to travel to the Czech Republic.  This client was a neighbor of Duane’s. She called Duane and reconnected us.  We have worked together since that time and Duane has explained a lot about the Czech culture.  I still have lots to learn.

 

Duane has a great network and got me in touch with the moderator of this blog, Vanessa Madrid, and her connections arranged two teaching jobs in only three days.   Duane had arranged for Vanessa to teach English in his old school some years earlier.  Now I will be doing a volunteer stint in that school and also a private school.  Host families have been arranged for me and I am so excited to start this “new life” that will unfold tomorrow.

 

You see, I am flying out today to Prague, Czech Republic and my host family will meet me at the airport.  This is especially exciting because I have never even traveled outside of California.  I will be reporting my experience on my blog, http://ottokafka.com/otto

 

Jan Havel about Duane

I was introduced to Duane by my wife many years ago and ever since the first moment have found this man fascinating — in his approach to life, business, and generous support of young people.
On my first trip to the West Coast, I spent a short night in Duane’s house in Galt before departing south in his old Volvo to travel around California with my wife. Since then we have met on numerous occasions, mostly during Duane’s trips to Europe. More importantly, we have been able to stay in touch via e-mail exchanging opinions on a range of topics.

In the early years of my digital agency Actum, Duane proved to be a valuable source of inspiration. Not only on specifics such as search engine optimization, which we frequently discussed. His website on BMW motorcycles is a benchmark in the industry and one of the most frequently visited sites for BMW enthusiasts who need repairs to their veteran motorcycles. Being home-made with simple tools, with very basic design and limited knowledge of internet standards, the site is a proof that content is what’s at each site’s core – a fact that was later acknowledged by the industry in a saying “Content Is King”.

I was happy to learn about Duane’s deep love of freedom and liberty. After introducing Duane to the theoretical foundations of the Austrian School of Economic Thought, I started receiving interesting links to articles and thoughts of Duane, which provided inspiration for my academic career, as well as critical insights challenging the official communication on US policies.

Duane stands out as an example of flexibility and ability to take on just about any job this planet offers. From supervising airport construction, to checking backup batteries of cellular network equipment, to test driving prototype cars, Duane was always able to bring in insights that helped him always exceed expectation. An example to be understood and followed.

One can tell a lot about a relationship when a phone rings or an email arrives. I am always happy to see a message from Duane and feel genuine interests in the content. That is a simple proof that Duane’s place in my life is of importance and value. Thanks, Duane!

Jan Havel
Prague, Czech Republic
Ph.D. in Economic Theory, Board Member of Liberal Institute, Founder and Partner in Actum and Actum+, largest digital agencies in the Czech Republic