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J. Walter Duncan Jr.

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J. Walter Duncan Jr. Obituary
J. Walter Duncan, Jr. died peacefully early in the morning of Saturday, February 21, 2009 at Integris Hospital surrounded by his family and friends. He died of complications associated with Parkinson's disease. Walter Duncan was born to Walter and Velma Duncan on November 26, 1916 in La Salle, Illinois. La Salle is a small rural community 100 miles east of Chicago. The Duncans and most of the residents of La Salle were descendants of Irish immigrants who settled in La Salle in the early 19th Century to work on a canal that was intended to connect the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan. Walter came from a family of successful businessmen and community leaders, having founded the La Salle State Bank, Marquette Cement, and the Duncan Insurance Office. Walter attended St. Bede's Academy in La Salle, and like his father, two brothers and one son, he graduated from Notre Dame University. He met his first wife, Ann Louise Burke, while at Notre Dame, and they were married soon after graduation in 1938. Walter and Ann settled in southern Illinois where, in partnership with his father, Walter became involved in a widespread oil boom. Walter had many great stories about the entrepreneurs, gamblers, and hustlers during these rough-and-tumble Depression days in the oilfields of Southern Illinois. Thanks to Walter's ingenuity and natural business sense, the family's oil holdings grew steadily. In 1949, Walter and Ann moved to Oklahoma City with their two children, Walt and Lynn, where Walter continued to expand the family oil business. They had three more children - Nick, Barbara, and Elizabeth - in Oklahoma City in the early 1950's. In partnership with fellow Notre Dame graduate, Joseph I. O'Neil of Midland, Texas, he established a significant holding in a large oil field in West Texas which greatly expanded the family's oil production. Walter's older brother, Monsignor Edward Duncan, is a Roman Catholic priest. Walter had a unique business partnership with his father and two brothers - Raymond, and Vincent - participating in each other's business deals for over 50 years with little more than a handshake. Together, their business interests expanded beyond oil and gas to office, retail, motel, and multifamily real estate development. With his brothers, Walter was involved in ski area development in Durango, Colorado. In the early 1980's he helped to found the USFL and became owner of the New Jersey Generals. It is impossible to communicate all the ways that Walter impacted the business community, but to quote one of Walter's business associates: "He epitomized the quintessential business man, erudite, sophisticated, shrewd, but scrupulously ethical and possessed of a wonderful sense of humor." Walter served on many boards, including Marquette Cement, Liberty Bank, Mercy Hospital, Casady School, and Christ the King Catholic Church. He held a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade and was a member of various private clubs and organizations. On September 7, 1984 Walter married his true love, Alma (Allie) Ward Cantrell. Together, they raised Allie's three daughters - Cathy, Jill, and Kellie - who lovingly knew him as "Pop". He embraced everything he touched which involved his Catholic faith, family, business and athletics. He would often be involved with a wide variety of sports, including golf, skiing, tennis, football, basketball, scuba diving, hunting and fishing and all the while teaching the lessons of life to those with him. For many years he enjoyed his annual pheasant hunt with friends from Denver, and an annual trout fishing trip with his sons and grandsons. His primary interest lay in golf, where he could often be found on the course with his wife Allie and their friends. Walter is preceded in death by his son, Walter Duncan III, daughter, Barbara Covington, and brother, Vincent J. Duncan. He is survived by his wife, Allie her three daughters, Cathy (and Chris) Cheatwood, Jill (and Mike) Oborny, and Kelly (and Dirk) Harden his three children, Lynn Leedy, Nick (and Peggy) Duncan and Elizabeth (and Andy) Lewis his brothers, Monsignor Edward Duncan and Raymond Duncan (and Sally) his grandchildren, Walt Duncan IV (Ann-Clore), Ann West (and Ken), Peter Duncan, Bradley Leedy (and Kedren), Sarah Dooley (and David), Burke Duncan, Nicholas Duncan, Patrick Duncan, Katy Henderson (and Scott), Anna Covington, Nora Covington, Rebecca Lewis, Emily Lewis, Margaret Lewis, James Cheatwood, Alex Cheatwood, Caroline Cheatwood, Mitchel Oborny, Thomas Oborny, Natalie Harden and Jessica Harden. Walter's family is eternally grateful to his caregivers, Tanaz Derakhshan, Rong Lillieroos, and Dee Mleczewski, who provided Walter with special love and care. A Rosary service will be held at Hahn-Cook at 5 pm on Wednesday, February 25th. A funeral Mass will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church on Thursday, February 26th at 11:00 am, with burial to follow at Rose Hill. The family suggests donations be sent to the Parkinsons Institute (Walter Duncan Foundation) located at 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085.

Published in The Oklahoman on Feb. 24, 2009
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