For nearly four decades, students at North Adams State College and later MCLA encountered Paul Duquette in their mathematics and computer science classes. On Saturday, May 27, Duquette passed away at the Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, leaving a legacy of colleagues and students behind.
“He was truly an amazing and caring man,” said Jacklyn Williams, an MCLA graduate member of the Sigma Gamma Phi sorority who asked Duquette to be their sorority adviser in 2007. “I always saw him with a smile on his face and a true interest in us. Not just as a sorority, but as individuals too. He truly cared and didn’t just act as a figurehead so that we could stay in good standings with the college criteria.”
Outside of his work as a professor and mentor, Duquette was known for his weekly appearances at Mass MoCA and was very musically-inclined. He could play the trumpet, the fiddle, and the flute, and had a love of contradancing. In fact, while at MCLA, Duquette taught an arts class as part of the Trio program where students learned how to contradance.
“We both were very involved in music,” said Jennifer Nault, an MCLA graduate who played with Duquette at Mass MoCA. “Paul cared more about music and his students than he did himself.”
According to Nault, the atmosphere at his Saturday morning MoCA jam sessions were always “friendly and upbeat,” and Duquette was always inviting others to join him in his love of music.
“I thought he was a very generous guy who always made time to help anyone who needed it and to talk to anyone. And he loved his dancing,” Senior Lindsey Doucette, who had class with Duquette, said.
Duquette taught at the College from 1982 to 2015. Previously, he taught at Lenox Memorial High School from 1967 to 1982 — a teaching career spanning 48 years.
“It’s hard to put into words how much he meant to us then and even more now,” Williams said.
Duquette was a Berkshires native and a graduate of the Pittsfield High School Class of 1960, after which he attended the Wentworth Institute of Technology for his undergraduate degree and the University of Massachusetts Amherst for his master’s.
Duquette is survived by his four children, his wife, grandchildren, contradance partners, fellow musicians, and generations of MCLA students that he has taught over the years.
Emma Monahan contributed to this article.