Donald G. Duncan Sr.

Donald G. Duncan Sr.

VOORHEESVILLE — A boisterous partier and athlete as well as a loyal family man and American Legion member, Donald G. Duncan Sr. wore many hats in his lifetime.

Mr. Duncan died unexpectedly on Monday, June 27, 2016, at St. Peter's Hospital surrounded by family. He was 84.

Mr. Duncan was born in Altamont to the late Grover and Alida Duncan, where he grew up working on a farm. His son, Donald Jr., says his father got up at 5 a.m. every day of his life, starting from childhood when he would get up to do chores before going to school, followed by going home to do more chores.

In 1950, Mr. Duncan graduated from Voorheesville’s high school without about 20 to 25 other students. A star athlete, he pitched on the school’s baseball team and was quarterback, playing both offense and defense on the football team back when teams had eight players. His son Darrin says Mr. Duncan tried out for the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies after high school, and had advanced to the next round of tryouts for the Yankees when he was drafted into the United States Army; he served for eight years including during the Korean War.

After returning from the war, he continued to play baseball and later softball in local leagues up until his 60s. His best pitch was a knuckle ball, which he referred to as “The Dancer,” as it would appear to dance back and forth as it came at the batter.

In the Army Mr. Duncan served as a Sergeant First Class. Though he would say little about the war except that he had lost some good friends and had developed a hatred of rice after eating so much of it, he became very involved in veterans’ affairs back home. He was an active member of the Voorheesville American Legion Post 1493, serving as commander for three terms.  He also served as county commander and district vice commander for the American Legion.  In addition, he was a member of the Voorheesville Rod and Gun Club and the Delmar Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.

The American Legion, said his son Darrin, “was pretty much his life.” Darrin described how his father would march in legion parades, go to ceremonies, and travel to the National American Legion convention no matter the location. He became even more involved after his children had grown up.

“His family at that point really became the American Legion,” said Darrin, describing how even other hobbies were involved with the legion, such as playing in the American Legion Dart League and coaching an American Legion baseball team in Albany.

A gregarious man who liked to party and be the center of attention, Mr. Duncan would dye his beard green for the legion’s St. Patrick’s Day party, or red for the Valentine’s Day party. Mr. Duncan himself would host Christmas parties for his neighbors and family, and organized family picnics at Warners Lake on Memorial Day weekend.

Never taking off from a work a day in his life, the one vacation Mr. Duncan took his family on was to Niagara Falls, in which they drove up for a day and drove back home that night. The vacations he took as he grew older were the trips to the American Legion convention, after his children had grown up and he had retired.

Mr. Duncan worked for Three Farms Dairy as a milkman, and then for Tobin Packing Company as a supervisor in West Albany for 15 years before it closed in 1981.  He then worked for the Albany County Highway Department in Voorheesville where he ran a paint truck until he retired in 1999. When asked once by his son Donald Jr. if he knew the back roads in the Hilltowns, Mr. Duncan replied, “I ought to, I painted them.”

As a milkman, Mr. Duncan would take his children with him on the occasional summer morning to ride with him, for, as hard as he worked, he still made time for his children, and later his grandchildren. He would travel just about anywhere to see his children and grandchildren play sports. It didn’t matter the type of sport, from his niece’s soccer games to his son Darrin’s football games at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. He would later do the same for his nephew’s football games at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

“The only ones that he missed were the ones that were out of state,” said Darrin.

“He was kind of an old-school father,” said Darrin, “But yet he was always there.”

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Mr. Duncan is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Mae E. (née Jones) Duncan; his children Deborah and her husband, Bill Blanchard, Darrell and his wife, Karen Duncan, Dodie Duncan, Donald Jr.and his wife, Toyyo Duncan, Deidra Trombley, Darrin and his wife, Tonya Duncan; and his son in law Bill Shutter.  He is also survived by his 20 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. His daughter, Denise Shutter, died before him.

Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, June 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home, 199 Main Street, Altamont. A funeral service will be held on June 30 at 8:30 a.m. at the funeral home with interment followed at Saratoga National Cemetery. Memorial Contributions may be made in Mr. Duncan’s  memory to the American Legion Post 1493, 31 Voorheesville Ave., Voorheesville, NY 12186.

— H. Rose Schneider

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