Woodgrain 03

Duke M. Britton

August 21, 1967 ~ July 13, 2023 (age 55) 55 Years Old


Duke Matthew Britton was born on August 21, 1967 in Ruislip, London to Ida Jane

and Delford Glenn Britton, a Red Cross volunteer and Air Force helicopter rescue pilot,

respectively. The couple met in Vietnam, married in Pittsburgh, and were restationed to

the United Kingdom where their adored first child and only son Duke was born. Two

years later his sister, April, joined the family, and two years after that, back living

stateside, the family welcomed their youngest, Stephanie. Duke’s life was filled with

incredible tales, as he was a soul of uncommon depth and capabilities. At age 5, he fully

disassembled the dishwasher, then reassembled it—and it worked. At eight, the family

car broke down in a deserted stretch in Illinois and he asked his mother if she would pop

the hood; she did, and minutes later they were on their way. In high school chemistry

class, it was rumored that he could guess an answer to the fifth decimal place. In middle

school in Los Angeles, he was noticed by BMX scouts sent by Steven Spielberg for a

movie he was making. Any time you see Elliott in E.T. with his hood drawn, on his bike,

that is Duke Britton. That image actually does capture something of Duke’s otherworldly

reach. Duke attended colleges in Pittsburgh before enlisting in the marines and serving

during the Gulf War. After the military, he returned to earn a degree in English from

Carnegie Mellon University. (Both sharing a background in English, Duke and April would

often collaborate on writing projects; but they always got too wild to execute, which

was probably the fun and point of it.) Around this time, he was reunited with Kelly

McConnell (now Kraft), a classmate from St. Helena High school in California, and the

couple settled and had two children, Justice Britton, 28, who recently graduated from

the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in neuroscience, and Jessica Britton, 25, a

second-class petty officer in the Navy transitioning to Penn State to study aerospace


Duke perfected his carpentry and woodworking skills while restoring and

maintaining an old building that housed his sister’s restaurant, Sassy Marie’s. He began

building decks for neighbors and residents in Pittsburgh’s North Side, and found he had

stumbled into a booming business that he continued until his illness made it impossible.

During the last fifteen or so years of his life, Duke nurtured his other passion in his

basement, making guitars with a Marlboro dangling out of his mouth and CCR or Stevie

Ray Vaughan playing, old school blues and Ozzy. A self-taught luthier and naturally

gifted graphic artist, Duke labored over every inch of his guitars, ordering wood from all

over the world to fuse different tones of mahogany, koa and olive wood, Brazilian

rosewood, and family favorite bird’s eye maple, in crafting his signature retro-diner-style

​racing stripe inlays. Jenn Sharon, Duke’s wife, a musician with a degree from Boston

University, says of the sound of his guitars, “He definitely has the touch.” Jenn was his

primary caretaker during his years-long struggle with the pancreatic cancer that took his

life on July 13th, 2023. Also tirelessly devoted and ever-ready with a Yahtzee board to

help him soldier through tedious endless treatments, was his loving sister, Stephanie


Duke was known for his lightning wit, his vast and wonderful spirit, and an

intelligence that was a gift to the world. He was always quick to lend a hand to friends

and neighbors, knowing that is how one makes change in the world. You couldn’t know

him and not think. You couldn't know him and not laugh. He was not perfect, but he

struggled with his demons openly, admirably, and moving always in the direction of

love, above all, for his children. He is survived by his wife Jenn Sharon, his daughter

Jessica Britton, son Justice Britton; his sisters April Wilder and Stephanie Getz plus

brother-in-law Andy Getz; his aunt Holly Barr and niblings Raya Wilder and Max

(Kaelyn/Kiki) Getz, many beloved far-flung cousins including the East-coast

Welty/Duran/Barr and West-coast Britton/Corna families and his three beloved dogs

Spidey, Jedi, and Rex. He was a wonder and a warrior, and we will miss him profoundly.


(We would like to thank Family Hospice, Part of UPMC, especially Mary, for their

assistance. They rock, cancer sucks. In lieu of flowers please donate to cancer research.)

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Duke M. Britton?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Duke's memory.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family

© 2023 Stephen M. Brady Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility