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Ltg William Herbert (De Ng Ret.) Duncan M.D.


1930 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Ltg William Herbert (De Ng Ret.) Duncan M.D. Obituary
LTG William Herbert Duncan, MD (DE NG Ret.)

Wilmington, DE - LTG William Duncan, MD (DE NG Ret.), age 88, passed away on December 19, 2018.

William Herbert Duncan was an exemplary physician, soldier, husband, and father. His dual careers informed each other and he demonstrated pioneering leadership in both.

William was born in 1930 in Wilmington, DE to the late Colonel Silas Blake Irwin Duncan and Elmira Newell Duncan. He was a graduate of West Point Class of 1952. He married the late Doris May Goodley on June 6, 1952, just a few days after graduating. He later married Beth Rhodes, MD, MBA, on September 24, 2005. He served in the Army during the Korean War. Upon his return from the service, he attended Temple University School of Medicine, graduating in 1959. In 1959, he began practice of Family and Community Medicine at 2417 Silverside Rd. in North Wilmington. He and Doris raised three children, Charles Irwin, an electrical engineer; Laurie Jay Duncan McClearen, registered nurse; and William Maurice, electrical engineer. He is also survived by his brother Newell, 96, three nephews, and one great-nephew.

William served in the Pennsylvania National Guard and was promoted to the rank of Major of Infantry as the Operations and Training Officer of the 111th Infantry Regiment. Later, under his auspices, the Delaware National Guard's 116th MASH hospital began to attract talented physicians and nurses. In 1974, he became commander of the 261st Signal Battalion, and in 1974 was federally recognized as a Major General. He retired from the Guard in 1987. During his 35-year military career, General Duncan was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-valor medal that can be awarded. He was also recognized with the State of Delaware Conspicuous Service Cross (five awards)—Delaware's highest ranking medal—as well as the Delaware Medal for Military Merit (eight awards), and the state honorary Rank of Lieutenant General on retirement. Related activities included service as Chairman of the National Guard Heritage Painting Committee, as well as Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation. He also was an active member of the Medical Society of Delaware, and was a past president.

He was Director of Emergency Services at the Wilmington Hospital Center prior to 1975, and a member of the management team that developed what was to become Christiana Hospital Center.

In 1975, Dr. Duncan took the position of V.P. for Medical Affairs at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington. He served from 1975-1993 and received commendation from the Board of Trustees for his administration of the hospital's medical and dental staff. He also was a Fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives.

For a very complete detailing of Bill's career, please access the resume provided by the National Guard.

But here, I want to share a bit of who and what Bill Duncan was. Everyone wanted to know him, be around him, learn from him, and be acknowledged by him. To my daughter Kristina and me, he was the kindest, gentlest, most generous, and patient husband and dad we both have known. He was a committed and loving father to her; and a kind and devoted husband to me. He and late wife, Doris, raised three impressive and accomplished children from that marriage.

I met Bill across a table at a lunch hosted by a Delaware National Guard Recruiter. One of my co-workers thought it would be "fun" to join the Delaware Guard and had invited me to come with her. When it came time to sign on, I showed up and she didn't, so that was that, as they say. At first, I knew Bill as a respected physician leader and mentor at St. Francis Hospital—he was their Vice President for Medical Affairs--and then peripherally interacted with him through Guard Summer Camps and events as our medical unit supported the missions of the 261st Signal Brigade, of which he was their commanding General. Over the ensuing years, I learned of the high esteem with which he was held by so many in Delaware. When I was accepted to medical school, it was largely due to his mentorship and guidance—and probably a few twisted arms. He helped my family, and, especially, my late sister, when they were in need. When I graduated from medical school, he hosted my family at a pre-graduation luncheon, then disappeared, and it was thirteen years until I saw him again. I contacted him in late 2001 to share some sad news about my family. He invited my mother and me to lunch. He later shared with us that he had lost his dear wife. We began a new friendship which was immeasurably enriched by his support of my decision to adopt a daughter, and we both cried when I told him about her. He later became the only father Kristina has ever known. He met us at the airport when we arrived, and was a supportive and devoted father figure for her until and after we married in 2005—following a marriage proposal which took place with him on bended knee in my garage with my dogs in attendance.

A hospitalization in 2006 for the first aortic aneurysm surgery for the disorder that would eventually take his life resulted in a 3 AM conversation with an ICU nurse who told him God put him on this earth for a purpose and he had to survive to meet that purpose. At that moment, he dedicated his life to making sure Kristina was supported and loved. A subsequent hospitalization for devastating complications following an auto accident involving Kristina and himself brought us back to Delaware in late 2008 for life-saving care not available where we lived. The physicians and staff of the Wilmington and Christiana Hospitals returned him to good health and we remained in Delaware. Fast forward to Sunday, when he suffered a true aortic rupture. There was some discussion about whether he would be strong enough to get through the surgery. I knew he would, because I knew how strong he was and how much he had fought through before. I was right. Thanks to heroic efforts by EMS, the Christiana ER, his dear friend and vascular surgeon, and the ICU staff, his life was saved. But the damage to his system was too much to overcome, and over the next three days, like a true soldier, he slipped away from us. This gentle yet strong, kind, loving and heroic man. He is with God now, and will be in my heart forever.

Visitation will be on Thursday December 27, 2018 from 5:00-8:00PM at Chandler Funeral Home, 2506 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE. Services will be on Friday December 28 at 11:00AM at Christ Church Christians Hundred, 505 Buck Rd., Greenville, DE. Interment will be 2:00PM on Monday December 31 at Delaware Veteran Cemetery, Bear, DE.

Donations may be made to any of the following: Friendship House, Claymont Community Center, Talleyville Fire Company, or Christ Church Christiana Hundred Outreach Committee.

For online condolences, please visit Chandlerfuneralhome.com
Published in The News Journal on Dec. 23, 2018
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