Robert Evans Duncan

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Remembering Bob Duncan, Hero and Friend

For years, Bob Duncan donned a blue Union Army Civil War uniform and fought it out with gray-clad Rebs. He was such an avid lover of history he wanted to experience it, live and out loud, himself. Maybe it was in his genes, passed down from his great-great grandfather, a Civil War veteran who survived the sinking of the USS Cumberland in 1842. And maybe it was just his all-out zest for living, an attitude that characterized everything he undertook.

Robert Evans Duncan, U.S. Marine Corp. Sergeant, Korean War era vet, historian, photographer, builder, Carpinteria Fire District board member, civic activist, and good friend, passed away on January 29- in Santa Barbara.

Bob was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on September 24, 1934 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from The College of William and Mary, Virginia, with a degree in English literature, and moved to Santa Barbara in the mid '60s. Once here, he began a photographic journey that lasted the rest of his life. His photos were featured by multiple media, and his dramatic pictures of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill were published internationally.

Throughout his life Bob was acutely aware of the importance of preserving the memory of those who fought and died for his country. He was past Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, General William T. Sherman Camp 28. He was responsible for restoring the Cieneguitas Civil War veteran's cemetery.

Bob's signature accomplishment was leading the enormous and costly effort to rescue and relocate the Summerland Veterans Memorial monument and flagpole from an obscure, overgrown and forgotten position below the 10 1 freeway. Once the monument was moved to Summerland Memorial Park in the heart of town, Bob tended it assiduously, assuring that monument, flag and pole were always well and respectfully maintained.

Bob Duncan was an outgoing man, a talker and a people pleaser, and his interests were wide-ranging and infectious. Golfing friends remember him as a pretty decent hacker. He founded the Slicers and Hackers Invitational Tournament to extend fun on the greens. Skiing buddies remember him as good on the downhill and organizing for the Santa Barbara Ski Club.

Bob's gregariousness and inclusiveness, his love of life and people, attracted a legion of friends. Women loved his courtliness and manners, and men loved his comradeship and loyalty. His passing leaves a gap in the lives of many. True to his devotion to flag and country until the end, Bob requested that the Summerland Memorial Park flag be kept flying as well lighting the Carpinteria Cemetery Flag near where he will rest.

A celebration of Bob's life will be held on Saturday, February 22, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at the Lions Club Park, 6197 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Summerland Citizens Association, marked Veterans Memorial Park Fund, 1140 Eugenia Place, Carpinteria, CA 93013.

Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Feb. 16 to Feb. 20, 2014
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