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Our Late Founder

les_cigar“Get the most out of life, be good to people, and have a lot of fun,” is the way Founder Lester “Les” H. Duncklee lived his life until his untimely death on March 21, 2014. Those closest to Les will always be thankful for his constant support and encouragement. His motto of living with a positive attitude will forever be etched in their hearts.

Duncklee Cooling and Heating was originally known as L.H. Duncklee Refrigeration, Inc. Under the leadership and vision of the late founder Les Duncklee, the company was located on the corner of Route 1 and Masons Island Road in Mystic for more than 20 years.  Les learned refrigeration in the United States Navy, and with great courage, enthusiasm and perseverance, he took the risk of starting a business while raising his young family in the 1970’s. When Les started the family-owned business in 1973, he was fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to create a business environment founded on professionalism, integrity, high-quality customer service, and fostering employee security. Within one year, he was able to move the business from his home in Pawcatuck to an office building, and hired his first employee.

Over the next 40 years, the business experienced many changes, but Les’ vision stayed the same: to provide customers with premier installation design and specialized customer service. Over the years, Les’ leap of faith grew into a successful business that continued to thrive, surpassing his expectations.  He was proud of his business and proud of his team. He shared his encouragement and respect on a daily basis both for his team and his son Jonathan, whom he supported when it was time to make changes and help the company grow in new directions.  Les regularly inspired and motivated his team to live the American dream.

les_tie“Thank you, Dad, for allowing me the freedom to make changes and execute them, for respecting those decisions, and always supporting me. Thank you for being an example of confidence and action, showing us all to stand up for what we believe in, and to remember to experience life to the fullest.” – Jonathan Duncklee

As the act of giving was one of Les’ most admirable traits, he contributed to a multitude of organizations, which kept him strongly connected to his community. He held the honor of Eagle Scout.  He was a brother of the Masonic Coastal Lodge #57 of Stonington, member of BPOE Lodge in Groton, past president of the Rotary Club of Stoningtons, past president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southeastern CT in the 1980s, past president of the CHCC (Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors Association), and a recipient of the Stonington Rotary’s Paul Harris Award. Les served on the Stonington Water Pollution Control and Stonington Democratic Town Committee, served on the Stonington Police Commission, was a Connecticut State Marshal, and was elected as the incoming president of Rotary Club of Stoningtons just before he died.  Les’ life was full of adventure, and he enjoyed experiences far and wide. He always said, “The world is small; it’s only a plane ride to anywhere.”

He will be missed.