August 23, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 34

Leduc stumbled in Haines, stayed

Andre Leduc, a disabled veteran who apparently drifted for much of his life before putting down roots here six years ago, died Aug. 14 at his Dusty Trails apartment. He was 65 and had been suffering from heart problems.

Andre Leduc

The official cause of death was undetermined early this week.

Friends described Leduc as a good poker player who drove around with his deaf cat, which he kept on a leash.

“The cat would honk the horn for (Leduc) to come. That was his family. He went everywhere with him,” said Karin Bagley, who dated Leduc for four years. Leduc played Texas Hold ‘Em poker twice a week at the Harbor Bar, and qualified for the World Tavern Poker Open in Las Vegas, Nev.

“He was a pretty aggressive player. When he got hot, he was hard to beat,” said bar owner Mike Ward. Friends there Friday toasted Leduc’s memory by sharing a shot of his favorite drink, peach brandy. Leduc’s cat is up for adoption.

Leduc was born Feb. 27, 1947 in Montreal. His family moved to Seattle in 1952, then to East Los Angeles in 1956. They owned an Italian restaurant and moved east after buying a bar in Hemet, Calif.

Sister Linda Janssen of Whittier, Calif. said her younger brother had a rough start. “His early years weren’t always the best. There were lots of drugs and problems with the family. It took him a long time to get on his feet.”

Leduc moved in 1987 to Oroville, Calif., where he operated a restaurant for about a year, then held a succession of short-term jobs including as a night cook and apartment manager. He also crewed on fishing boats and worked, as a security guard on movie sets, Janssen said. “He worked a lot of jobs. He never mastered any of them. He kept changing jobs.”

Janssen said her brother served about six months in the U.S. Army and received a medical discharge for a problem with his feet. He’d been in an explosion around the age of 18 that left him with burns over much of his body, she said.

Leduc told friends he drove north bound for Anchorage, but ran out of money and instead turned south at Haines Junction, Y.T.

“He thought it would be fun to go find somewhere else. He called me and he said, ‘I’m in Alaska and I like it. I think I’m going to stay,’” Janssen recalled. “He really enjoyed Alaska. He called me once a month and told me what he was doing.”

Bagley said they met after exchanging glances on the Senior Center bus. “He lived in the apartment across from me. He asked me out and we started dating. I’m six foot and he was six-four. We seemed like a good fit,” she said.

She moved to Petersburg six months ago for medical care but said Leduc would phone her daily. When she didn’t receive a call early last week, she knew something was wrong, she said.

Leduc was “a nice, easygoing man with a gentle spirit,” she said. “He loved his cat and his cards.”

Leduc’s family members include sister Linda Janssen of Whittier, Calif., brother Serge Leduc of Deming, N.M. and nephews and nieces. He was buried Friday at Jones Point Cemetery. Cards may be sent to Linda Janssen, 13008 Danbrook Drive, Whittier, Calif. 90602.