Rev. Dr. Tim Duncan
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COLUMBIA - The Rev. Dr. Tim Hoyt Duncan had a passion for living life in the moment, whether he was painting, riding his Yamaha V Star motorcycle, practicing contemplative silence, or being fully present in the lives of family, friends and the parishioners he loved.
His compassion and tenderness for nurturing the human heart sprang from a deep well of belief that the world could be more just and fair.
Tim died Thursday, May 7, 2020, after a three-and-a-half year struggle with multiple myeloma, but his life as a Presbyterian minister and pilgrim traveler was defined by a lifelong call for social justice and the opening of the creative conscious. He was 62.
Tim, who retired from Shandon Presbyterian Church in Columbia after his cancer diagnosis, is survived by his wife, Nancy Hoyt Duncan, his cherished partner whom he described as his "soulmate."
A Minnesota native with a mischievous grin and distinctive Midwestern accent, Tim tried to stir the humanity and connection among people. He encouraged people of all faiths to work toward the "beloved community" that the Rev. Martin Luther King had described during the civil rights movement of Tim's youth.
He was not shy about taking on social ills that included racial inequality, domestic violence and poverty. But he leavened his preaching with calls for grace.
An artist by training, he found creative outlet and joy in painting, mounting an exhibition at Shandon last fall called "Journey of the Soul: The Art of Tim Hoyt Duncan." He loved music and drew young people to his sermons with deft theological references to lyrics from the rock bands he loved, including Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
Tim sought to live by the words of Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?" He signed off most of his emails and letters with these words.
Tim credited his faith and Nancy with piloting him through his cancer journey which began just five months after he was named head of staff at Shandon Presbyterian in August 2016.
He had been the congregation's charismatic associate pastor between 1990-2003, meeting and marrying Nancy in 1992. The couple returned to Columbia after pastoral appointments in Richmond, Va., where he was associate for leadership development for the Presbytery of the James, and Northport, Long Island, New York, where he was pastor of First Presbyterian Church for a decade.
When Shandon's pastoral nominating committee announced in early 2016 the decision to call Tim, a cheer rose from the normally reserved congregation.
Tim encouraged outreach and felt particularly blessed when Bethel AME Church and Shandon Presbyterian mingled their congregations for a joint worship service on Good Friday.
He took early retirement in September 2018 to focus on his health. But he kept friends and family apprised of his cancer journey through the CaringBridge web site.
His last journal entry on May 3 reflected the impish humor that characterized his approach to life even in the midst of declining health. "I wish it was news of Nancy and I taking a trip to Alaska, the one state I've not yet visited, but we will have to settle for 49 of 50, as I am now a part of the Hospice Program," he wrote.
Timothy James Duncan was born on August 12, 1957, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the youngest of eight children of the late James William Duncan and Kathleen Ann Ritchie Duncan.
He graduated with a degree in studio art from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in 1979 and earned a master of divinity degree from Louisville Seminary in Kentucky in 1983. He earned a doctor of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1992. His first call was as associate pastor at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Greenville.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his siblings, Janet Louise Kooistra (Roger), Robert Ritchie Duncan (Dawn), Dian Kay Cedar (John), Stephen Douglas Duncan (Barbara), Gerald Allan Duncan, and Nancy Lee Duncan; his parents-in-law, William and Sara Hoyt; and sisters-in-law, Jane Leidlein (Hugh) and Harriette Hoyt (Brian); and many beloved nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by and a sister, Mary Lou Romero.
His family wishes to thank his primary care physician, Dr. Hampton Alford, and the health care team at Lexington Oncology, Dr. Chelsea Stillwell and Myra Hawkins, for the incredible compassion and care they provided for him. The family is also grateful to Amy Bowen from Amedisys Hospice for her nurturing support during Tim's final days.
Memorials may be made to Shandon Presbyterian Church (Outreach Ministry), 607 Woodrow Street, Columbia, SC 29205; or Gustavus Adolphus College (Gustavus Fund), Office of Institutional Advancement, 800 West College Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082.
Memories may be shared at www.dunbarfunerals.com.