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Love Seats Honor a Beautiful Marriage

Donald “Dutch” DuChateau ’50 and Cecilia DuChateau met at Bay Beach. Their memory lives on just eight miles south, on the St. Norbert campus, where two benches sit facing each other, as the couple themselves so often sat in life.

Dutch deeply loved his wife of 66 years. In 2012, when Cecilia died, Dutch ensured her memory would live on in a place very dear to his heart. When Dutch himself died, in 2014, his family wanted the memory of their father to share that special place.

“My parents met on the dance floor at Bay Beach in the late 1930s,” says Jeff DuChateau, the youngest of Dutch and Cecilia’s five children. “They dated for a few years and Dad proposed at the train station the day he left to serve in the Navy in World War II. Dad returned from the war in December 1945, and they were married June 11, 1946.”

Dutch served in the United States Navy four years, first sailing on the USS Bear north of the Arctic Circle, and another three years aboard the USS Marblehead sailing around the world: a stint that included fighting on the beaches of southern France. 

After he returned home from the war and married Cecilia, Dutch studied biology at St. Norbert. He had fond memories of the Rev. Anselm Keefe, O.Praem., Class of 1916, and thought of him often while tending to his garden and lawn.

Late in life, Dutch shared with Lisa Vanden Avond ’82 (Advancement) that St. Norbert College had such a positive impact on his life and he wanted to create a memorial for Cecilia on its campus. He and his wife had decided 30 years ago to include St. Norbert in their will and Dutch intended to make good on that promise while he was still around. 

Two benches, beautifully inscribed with the words “In Memory of My Wife, Cecilia, With Love, Dutch DuChateau ’50” were placed on campus; one just south of the Bemis International Center and the other on the east side of Third Street, to the south of the iconic St. Norbert arch.

Upon Dutch’s death, Jeff and his wife, Deb, wanted a memorial that would equally honor Dutch on the campus he loved. They chose for him a bench in the same style as Dutch had selected for his wife: the location … facing Cecilia’s from across Third Street, near the library. To further honor his parents, Jeff chose two bricks on the Memorial Walk leading to the Shakespeare Garden to remember the qualities he so admired in his father and to honor Cecilia, Dutch’s dance partner forever.

Much as Dutch and Cecilia gazed at each other on the dance floor nearly 80 years ago, their benches now face each other, and invite future generations of students and passers-by to rest and look upon the beautiful campus that Dutch loved so dearly.

April 5, 2016