Kelly, adding Duff was an extrovert, very gregarious and he became vital to the lives of many people.
When his friend, Curtis Tulk, a long time Kitchener Market busker, developed cancer last year, Duff stepped up, helping with everything from grocery shopping to carrying Curtis’ equipment to the market every Saturday. Curtis died Sept. 7, 2018.
Duff was born in Kitchener, Aug. 12, 1966, one of four kids. Older brother, Peter Becker said that at the height of the abuse from their parents, the Mennonite Brethren Church stepped in and supported the family. Their lives did improve but the abuse did not stop. His mother died when Duff was 10, then his dad when he was 12 and along with, Peter, the boys ended up in foster care, taken in by Lynn Lawton, a woman who cared deeply for her young charges.
The Working Centre’s Rebecca Mancini recalled “he said she loved him more than anyone else in his life.”
Peter said he thinks Lynn’s death when they were teenagers deeply impacted Duff and started him on that downward spiral.
Friend, Currie Chapman, said Duff had already been dealing with the death of his birth parents.
“He would go to the Mount Hope cemetery and sleep by his mom’s grave,” said Currie. “He did that a lot.” Another friend, Tessa Jennison, said he actually climbed the tree near the graves of both parents and there were testy exchanges between him and police as they tried to get him to descend.
In his personal life, Duff had a relationship with a woman for nearly 18 years and he’d had jobs in everything from agriculture to running a fishing tackle shop and temp agency. But alcohol took over and he couldn’t maintain that lifestyle. Everything crumbled.
Duff and Currie struck up a friendship when both were living on the streets half a dozen years ago. There was something different about Duff, he said, something that drew him to the gangly guy with the huge smile.
Duff and Currie were a selfappointed street patrol team, Currie said, remembering the pair walking up and down King,