Donald Allen Duncan, also lovingly referred to as “Coach” or “D.A.D.”, died on May 31, 2019, at the age of 89 in Tacoma, Washington. Don Duncan was born on Nov. 16, 1929, in Hoquiam, Washington, to Henry Duncan and Zola (Hart) Duncan. He grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, with his siblings — sister, Sally (Duncan) Kerns, brother, James (Jim) Duncan (deceased), and brother, Robert (Bob) Duncan (deceased).
After high school, Don completed his major in education at Washington State University. Following graduation, he proudly served as a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Air Force from 1951-1956. Then, in October 1956, he landed what he always referred to as his “dream job”.
For 38 outstanding years (1957-1994), Coach Don Duncan poured his heart and soul into his career as an accomplished swim coach and aquatics director at the University of Puget Sound (UPS) in Tacoma. Don was chairmma of the Physical Education Department for 11 years, retired as an Associate Professor and remained extremely involved in the UPS Alumni Association. In 1991, he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, and then into the University of Puget Sound Hall of Fame in 1996. Despite never being married and having a family of his own, Don often felt honored to regularly play the role of “D.A.D.” to his swimming family throughout his career, and then privileged to ultimately be referred to as “the beloved grandfather of UPS Swimming.”
Traveling all over the world, Don would come home to his beach house in Wauna, Washington, where he lived for over 40 years. Don loved boating on Puget Sound and always treasured visiting with friends including many in later years at Brookdale Senior Living. Don admired boats, cars, and planes.
Don had an immense passion for planes and took advantage of every opportunity to fly. “Flying is simply GREAT!” he would say. One of his most memorable flights was in 2009 in celebration of his 80th birthday, on an amazing Warbird plane out of Boeing field. His last flight was in July, 2017. Don lived life to the fullest, making the most of every day no matter what the circumstances. He led by example through kindness, compassion, generosity and a great sense of humor. He will be cherished in the hearts of all that knew him.
Don is survived by his sister, Sally Jean (Duncan) Kerns and sister-in-law, Kay Duncan; nieces Jacqueline (Jackie) Duncan, Laura (Kerns) Bain and Cindy Kerns; nephews, Jim Duncan and Tim Kerns; grandnephew Justin Yowell; and grandnieces Sarah (Bain) Kjos and Brianna Bain.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Charles Borromeo on Friday, June 14, at 11 a.m. Reception to follow. Vigil service will be held Thursday, June 13, 5 p.m. at the Gaffney Funeral Home Chapel. Donations can be made to the Donald Duncan Swimming Fund at University of Puget Sound or charity of one’s choice. Please see full obituary or leave online condolences at www.gaffneycares.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home.