Duane Lowell Bickel 

November 16, 1929 – May 15, 2019

Duane Bickel close up

Click on photo for a larger image

Duane Lowell Bickel, 89, passed away at home in hospice on May 15, 2019, due to Corticobasal Degeneration, a rare Parkinson’s-like disease. His beloved wife, Darrcy Loveland Bickel, and caregiver Grace were by his side. 

A native Californian, Duane was born November 16, 1929, to Willie Alma Cooksey Bickel, a nurse, and Earl John Bickel, a radio patrolman with the LAPD, who died in the line of duty when Duane was seven years old. Duane attended Verdugo Hills High School and received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Mathematics and Physics from UCLA and an MBA from the University of La Verne.

Duane joined Lockheed Aircraft Company as a Mathematical Analyst upon graduation and was a pioneer in the field of Computer Graphics. He held management positions in computing, including Department Manager of Advanced Technology. He was responsible for computer procurement, notably, purchasing the first Cray supercomputer, the most powerful computer of the time; and participated in the famed “Skunk Works.” We know little else of his career, as he strictly complied with Department of Defense secrecy requirements. When Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta, Duane chose not to accept a move to Georgia, and took early retirement. He was entrusted with the keys to the company’s operations in Burbank, where he turned out the lights and locked the doors for the last time.

Duane and his wife of 49 years, Patricia Mary Covick Bickel, a teacher and docent, deceased in 2002, moved from Glendale to enjoy retirement in Laguna Beach. They were members of St. Catherine Siena Catholic Church and active in the community. 

Duane and Darrcy Loveland, attorney, married in 2004 and celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary this month. Duane was a romantic, asking Darrcy to marry him flying in a hot air balloon over Temecula with a champagne brunch in a vineyard upon landing. Duane and Darrcy enjoyed traveling the world but were always glad to return home to Laguna Beach.

Duane was fun-loving, honorable, a gentleman and a role model for his entire family. He was active in many Laguna Beach organizations and a member of both St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church and Laguna Beach United Methodist Church. He was Secretary and Treasurer of Neighborhood Watch, a presenter at Police Awards events and a member of the Exchange Club, helping to organize Pancake Breakfasts and purchase and wrap Christmas gifts for needy families. For over 30 years, Duane attended Wednesday breakfasts with his gang of men friends that he said met to solve the problems of the world. Duane also organized the annual Woods Cove End of Summer Party. 

Survivors include his wife, Darrcy Loveland Bickel; a daughter, Janice Fenster and her husband Alan, of Tiburon; a son, Glenn Bickel, of Westwood; Georgia Bickel; four grandchildren: John, Henry, Peter, and Madelyn Bickel of Georgia; and brother-in-law Bill Dunagan, of Kansas and husband of Duane’s deceased sister Lorraine.

Friends and relatives are invited to attend Duane’s Celebration of Life on Friday, May 31, at 1 p.m. at the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley Dr, with a reception to follow in the church Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, contributions are requested in Duane Bickel’s memory to any of the following: Laguna Beach Seniors, Laguna Beach United Methodist Church or St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church.