Life Story Visitation
Monday, June 12, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
Life Story Service
Life Story Reception
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With honor, compassion, and love, Robert "Bob" E. Duncan lived a life rich in family and friends. Bob embodied the principles he believed in, welcoming every day as a gift and every person as a friend. He was an eager student, keen listener, and generous teacher who skillfully recognized how best to offer support. Whether lending a hand, sharing an insight, or holding his tongue, Bob always reflected his unwavering faith in the goodness he saw in others. Bob knew the importance of balancing hard work with restorative play, generously welcoming people to the sanctuary of his home and cabin. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, teammate, and friend, Bob proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. Revered and cherished by many, Bob will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Alma, Michigan, as Clive and Dorothy (Seybert) Duncan welcomed their son Bob on June 1, 1932.
The oldest of the Duncans' five kids, Bob's childhood was rooted in family values. His father worked as a draftsman, and his mother dedicated herself to being a homemaker. Along with his siblings, Bud, Dick, Jim, and Julie, Bob grew up in Kalamazoo and attended public schools. Though a lifelong sports fan, he didn't participate in organized sports. However, at the age of 16, he fell in love with the outdoors after his good friend and neighbor, Homer, took him up north to the Garden Peninsula. Over his lifetime, he came to love deer hunting, the woods, watching wildlife, preserving nature, the community, and traditional events like Cornfest.
After graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1951, Bob enlisted in the Navy with his cousin, Roger. He stayed stateside and safely returned home following his honorable service to his country.
In the spring of 1954, Bob had the good fortune of meeting his beloved Alice on a blind date at the local drive-in. Instantly smitten, Bob came to enjoy rowing out to the island on Pine Lake, where his family had a summer place, to his and Alice's favorite place to neck. The following year, on June 4, 1955, the happy couple exchanged their wedding vows in a ceremony at St. Joseph's rectory, officially beginning their 69-year adventure.
Following a honeymoon up north, the newlyweds returned to West Michigan and settled into their lives together. Shortly after, Bob's close friend Homer helped him obtain his job at the State Hospital and he retired after 33 years as a power plant engineer. Alice worked for the Upjohn Company. In time, Bob and Alice adopted their son David when he was 7 ½ years old. In 1972, they adopted Kristy after meeting her while visiting David's past foster parents. She was only 6 years old.
Though firm when needed, Bob was a kind and loving father. He and Alice worked hard to create a supportive home for their children, ensuring their well-being and making many treasured memories along the way. Many of their best memories were made at the cabin they built on the 120 acres they purchased near where they honeymooned up north. A sanctuary for the whole family, Bob was very mindful of tending the land and supporting the community; he was the patroller of all that drove by, vigilantly monitoring the activity from his golf cart. A man of routines, his days ran like clockwork and always included an hour-long nap after his lunch.
One of the greatest gifts he gave his children was the example of his marriage. Bob took his role as a husband seriously and honorably approached his relationship with great care. True companions, they were always together. Whether roller-skating, going to Sweetwater's donuts, snowmobiling up north, camping in their fifth wheels, gardening, canning, or working puzzles, they truly enjoyed each other's good company. Bob was very chivalrous and enjoyed everything and anything Alice cooked, especially her Hungarian dishes. They enjoyed an active social life, often at the Moose Lodge where Bob was an active member, and listening to Country western music. Nurturing and meticulous, Bob never hesitated to lend a hand, taking pride in doing all the vacuuming and making the bed each day.
For over ten years, Bob owned a side business with his buddy, Joe. The roofing company proved an enjoyable endeavor that afforded Bob the opportunity to use his skills and talents to serve others. He possessed a mechanical mind, was a handy carpenter, and loved yard work and general tinkering. He and Alice were K-wings' season ticket holders for 42 years. They loved cheering on their team, and Bob even worked as a goal judge up and through this last season. Bob enjoyed watching the Detroit Tigers and golf, and had the good fortune to travel to Hilton Head for golf.
Bob enjoyed people and spending time with friends. In Bob's company, everything was better! His customary "no problem" response to helping others and general good nature created a safe space for people to simply be, especially when feeling down or facing life's challenges. He relished time spent with his children and grandchildren, carefully nourishing close relationships with his grandkids. He took them hunting and camping, sharing his up north legacy and gifting them a love for the outdoors.
Though life feels less certain in the absence of Bob's steadfast companionship, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying his beautiful legacy forward. Each time we lend a helping hand, listen with compassion, explore and preserve nature, enjoy a Willie Nelson song, live fully in the moment, and share time with our loved ones, we celebrate all the ways Bob gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Robert E. Duncan, of Kalamazoo, age 91, died June 8, 2023, in Kalamazoo. Bob was born June 1, 1932, in Alma, the son of Clive and Dorothy (Seybert) Duncan. Preceded by brothers: Jack and Richard Duncan. Members of his family include his wife of 69 years, Alice Duncan; 2 children: David (Shelly) Duncan and Kristy (Bob) Flannery; 4 grandchildren: Andrew, Matthew, Michael, and Hunter; siblings: Bud (Jeanette) Duncan, Jim (Dorla) Duncan and Julie (Jim) Kley and many nieces and nephews.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Monday, June 12, from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A Life Story Service will be held Tuesday, June 13, at 11 AM, also at the funeral home. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial at Genessee Prairie Cemetery. Visit Bob's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association.