Ithaca, NY

Dietmar “Duke” Kooistra entered this world in the midst of war and chaos in Germany on May 25, 1944, and left it on February 22, 2017 being loved and cherished by many.

The son of Hendrik and Elsa (Rosa) Kooistra, Duke came to the United States on a big ship at the age of four, and his family settled in Northern New York.  He graduated from Harrisville High School in 1964, and received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army, where he served as a medic. Duke’s gifted hands made him a highly skilled craftsman and a brilliant musician.  His friend Tom – a bandmate in a band known as “The Sound” – said “Duke was our lead guitarist and arranger, and he made us all so much better.”  In one of his musical incarnations, Duke played bass for Bobby Womack and one of his bands warmed up for the Rolling Stones. After tearing up the North Country as a musician (and as a partner with his father in D&H Construction), Duke moved to Rochester, then to Alfred, where he studied and taught at the Alfred Martial Arts Academy. He attained 3rd degree black belt.

In the 1980’s Duke bought a piece of land in Enfield, built an awesome little rough-cut house, and shared a lot of special  times with his partner, Barb, and her grandkids, Jon and Jasmine.   He worked as an electrician, and was the Go-To-Guy at the Ithaca Fitness Center for many years.  He continued to compose and play some beautiful music, and if friends needed something fixed or built, they knew who to call.

In 2010, Duke suffered a stroke and worked very hard in physical therapy to regain the use of his arm and leg.  While those challenges remained daunting, his gift for music remained intact, and he continued to write, compose and record.  It was while rehabbing at Beechtree Care Center that Duke met Karen, who was selflessly by his side for the last 4 years until he moved on to the next phase of his spiritual journey.

Duke is survived by his partner, Karen, his sisters, Dorothy, Emily, Claudia and Patty, and many close friends who will never forget his kind heart and sweet soul.

On Saturday, February 25th, friends are invited to gather at noon for Duke’s burial at Greensprings Natural Cemetery, 293 Irish Hill Rd., Newfield, NY; followed by a Celebration of Life at 2pm at Lansing Funeral Home, 32 Auburn Rd., Lansing, NY.  Guitars, poems, memories, jokes and stories will be welcomed.