Donald Duncan, First Chair of SSU Department of Mathematics
Donald G. Duncan, professor emeritus of mathematics, passed away on September 23, 2009. He was a founding member and the first Chair of the SSU Department of Mathematics in 1963. He was 89 years old.
Don was born on April 21, 1920 and was raised in British Columbia. He obtained a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1951. Before coming to SSU, Don taught at the University of Arizona and San Jose State University. He was an inspiring teacher and a prolific research mathematician. As the first leader of the SSU Department of Mathematics, Don was instrumental in developing its culture of teaching excellence and active collegiality.
Don was married for 51 years to Penny Duncan, whom he met during their mutual involvement in civil rights struggles during the 1950s. He had three children: Kathleen Duncan, Jim Duncan and Anne Brereton. He also had three grandchildren: Rob, Justin and Emily Brereton. Justin is majoring in mathematics at MIT and hopes to become a mathematics professor like his grandfather.
Besides mathematics and the SSU mathematics community, Don loved his family, visiting Canada, and playing tennis. Prior to his passing, Don had been ill for some time. His wife Penny and he had moved back to E. Lansing, MI several months ago to be near their daughter Anne and her family. There are no plans at this time for a memorial service. Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Department of Mathematics at Sonoma State University for the Don and Penny Duncan Awards fund (see column at right).
Article and photo courtesy of Anne Brereton.