Middletown real estate mogul remembered for his generosity

Updated Sept 06, 2017
Courtney Duff, president and CEO of Courtney Duff Companies, died Sept. 4 in Middletown. He was 82.

Courtney Duff’s family always knew of his generosity, but in the days since his death, those stories have come to life.

They have heard from those who were sick, those dealing with a drug addiction, those in financial trouble, all people helped by Courtney Duff, who died Monday. He was 82.

“Story after story,” said Tammy Miller, one of his two daughters.

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She remembered a woman who was 19 years old back in the 1980s and because of her age, no one would rent to her. But Duff did.

His wife Mary Lee Duff said that “it never was about money” to her husband.

“The most generous person I ever knew,” she said.

Back in the 1980s, when interest rates soared and the real estate market plummeted, Duff withdrew money from his bank account to give to his church, she said. While he was losing money, he understood the importance of tithing, she said.

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Most of the time, Duff’s generosity was performed anonymously.

“He loved to give,” said David Huff, one of his two step-sons. “He did it because it was right. He valued education. He valued his faith.”

He also valued his name, added daughter Tina Castle.

“He did whatever he had to do to keep that,” she said. “He always made time for his girls.”

For a man who built and sold thousands of residential and commercial properties, Duff was remembered for being well grounded in his faith and family.

“He touched a lot of lives,” said Bill Fugate, who attended Breiel Boulevard First Church of God with Duff. “He was a wonderful man. He was so generous and we probably don’t know half of what he did.”

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Fugate called Duff “truly Godly” and said for years he led a Bible study for local businessmen at the Manchester Inn.

Candice Keller, a state representative for Ohio’s 53rd House District and executive director of the Community Pregnancy Center, met Duff about 10 years ago in his office on Roosevelt Boulevard. Keller, then new to her position, wanted to get his professional advice about how to handle a board of directors and solicit donations.

She said he was well respected in the Middletown community.

That meeting turned into a friendship that saw Keller and her husband, Kent Keller, purchase Duff’s former residence on Central Avenue and relocate the Community Pregnancy Center into his former real estate office on Roosevelt.

“Our paths were meant to cross,” she said.

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Through their occasional meetings and conversations, Duff stressed that people have their own agendas, some good, some bad, Keller said. Her told Keller her job was to connect donors with those who need assistance, the women in her center, even those the groups may never meet.

In 1995, Duff was honored as Realtor of the Year.

He is survived by his wife Mary Lee Duff, and was preceded in death by his first wife, Vada Duff, in 1992.

Friends are invited to visit with the family Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. or 6 to 8 p.m. at Breiel Boulevard First Church of God, 2000 N. Breiel Blvd.

A celebration service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church, with Pastors Marty Grubbs and Wes Duff officiating.

Interment will be at Woodside Cemetery.