Dr. Duncan Named Dan Reed Rotary Award Winner

Dr. Frances Duncan, Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self Recipient

Dr. Frances Duncan, Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self Recipient

  If I were in the business of nominating someone for saint, it would Dr. Frances Duncan.  As I sat in the Rotary Club of Columbus luncheon audience, I was amazed to hear about this incredible woman, the winner of this year’s Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self. 

Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

Dr. Frank Brown, President Emeritus, CSU, Rotarian (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

  Dr. Frank Brown, President Emeritus of Columbus State University, Rotarian, and friend, told her story in presenting the award.  It is a story of lifelong service to her family, her community and special people.  She was instrumental in establishing the Special Education Department at Columbus State University. No doubt, her devotion to her late daughter and adopted son played a large role in determining the direction of the rest of her life.

  Her life reflects a lot of different interests and vocations. Not only is she a chemist, public school and college teacher, but she is also a HAM radio operator, and, as Dr. Brown puts it, “The consummate volunteer with so many organizations, it is hard to keep track.”

    A native New Yorker, who grew up in Buffalo, she volunteered for the Red Cross and served overseas during and after World War II. She met her husband in Berlin, and when she left it was in a cargo plane duirng the Berlin Blockade airlift operation,  wearing a parachute, “sitting on benches along the sides of the plane, and she was six months pregnant.”

  She had six children, and one of them, a daughter, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy after the family had moved to Columbus when Dr. Duncan’s husband was stationed at Fort Benning. While taking her daughter to Warms Springs for rehabilitation, they met Richard Fordham, a former college varsity basketball player.  An automobile accident left him a quadriplegic. Raised an orphan with no place to live after his rehabilitation, he was adopted and became the seventh member of the Duncan family.  

  He earned two masters degrees at Columbus State University and taught at Fort Benning, and became an advocate for the physically disabled. Though losing both her daughter in 1981 and Richard in 2001, Dr. Duncan continued in her quest to help others.

  She was able to continue her life’s calling by teaching and helping children with special needs at CSU (then Columbus College) where she was instrumental in establishing the Special Education department. She retired in 1985 and is now Professor Emerita.  

Dr. Frances Duncan presented Dan Reed Rotary Award by Dr. Frank Brown

Dr. Frances Duncan presented Dan Reed Rotary Award by Dr. Frank Brown (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

  Dr. Brown said, “Frances Duncan has been, and remains, an inexhaustible volunteer for humanitarian causes.” 

      “Frances Duncan is the mother of seven children, two with disabilities, and she has eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Everyone who knows her has a story to tell about her generous spirit and support she spreads wherever she goes. And she goes at breakneck speed!” Dr. Brown said, adding, “I am proud to present my firend and heroine, someone who embodies the spirit of America, Dr. Frances Duncan, for the Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self.”

  The Rotary Club of Columbus presents the award each year. Giving it to her set the bar quite high for next year. I doubt if anyone can top her when it comes to service above self.    

Mary Reed and Dr. Frances Ducan. Mary Reed is Rotary Club of Columbus secretary and widow of former secretary Dan Reed, for whom the award is named

Mary Reed and Dr. Frances Ducan. Mary Reed is Rotary Club of Columbus secretary and widow of former secretary Dan Reed, for whom the award is named (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

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