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Former UCO Professor Hall Duncan leaves legacy of teaching, writing, illustrating and kindness

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –

This story first appeared online on Dec. 12, 2020.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The late Dr. Hall F. Duncan (January 27, 1924 – November 30, 2020), also known as “Dr. D,” was an educator, children’s author and illustrator, as well as a friend and mentor to many. His long life of 96 years was filled with kindness and decades of knowledge in travel, education, humor, and art.

A resident of Edmond, Duncan taught advertising, design and cartooning for seventeen years at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). One of his many students gave him his pen name, “Dr. D.”.

In 1950, Duncan married Margaret Louise Sherk. They had four sons: Daniel, Franklin, Bruce and Douglas. Active in the Methodist Church his entire life, he respected all religious faiths.

Hall illustrated many Christian publications in Southern Africa and traveled to eleven countries to train artists for literacy and illustration work. His research on the pictorial perception habits of children in Africa has been published in South Africa, England, Papua New Guinea, and the United States.

His publications in the U.S. include fourteen illustrated books for children and retirees, many which are available on Amazon.com.

Educated in China, Europe, South Africa and the United States after fighting in WWII, he directed training programs in cities such as Kiev, London, Santiago, Seoul.

Hall received a Purple Heart for being wounded while rescuing a fellow soldier under enemy sniper fire. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

Hall was only 20 years old during the battle, and 80 percent of his company was killed liberating the towns of Bourgaltroff and Guebling in northeast France on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge in November 1944.

Duncan served in 1 Company, 3rd Battalion, 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army as a Private First Class.

Dr. Duncan received the Governor of Oklahoma’s Arts Award for his life time dedication to educating and entertaining children through his art. The National Education Association and Writer’s Digest have honored his published work and he was awarded a PhD by the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

In 2013, France bestowed Hall with their Legion of Honor medal, their highest decoration, for embodying liberty, equality, and fraternity. In 2018, a town square in France was named after him, designated “Hall Duncan Place,” for his contribution working with the mayors and townspeople to bring to light first-hand details of the liberation of their villages.

Hall carried the UCO mace, an ornamented staff of metal and wood which he designed, as he led the inauguration procession of University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz in 2012.

Former student and artist Trey Aven wrote on Facebook, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Hall Duncan who was my mentor and former professor of advertising in the seventies. I had served as his graduate assistant in London and we

conducted seminars together in Eastern Europe. Hall came to New England to attend the grand opening of my design school and flew to China to assist me in the establishment of an exchange program between the University of Central Oklahoma and the Chinese university where I was teaching. He was instrumental in me being awarded the honor of Distinguished Alumni of my former university. He always believed in me when others didn’t. God speed Hall and thank you for all you did for me.” 

Bruce Duncan, Hall’s son said, “Gentle man of strong conviction, ready to travel, to illustrate, share funny stories, lend a hand with a smile and let you know how much he loved you.”

Addressing Hall’s sons on Duncan’s Legacy page, Frank Hoke wrote: “I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing, but we can also be glad that he had a long rich life. I have fond memories of the time we spent together in scouting and his stories of international travel were something that had a profound impact on me as an adolescent and subsequent adulthood. Your father’s life is an inspiration on how to spend one’s retirement in an active and productive way.”

Candace Low said of Duncan, “I was a student of this incredible man. I was blessed to know him and he still inspires me. He always made me believe that I could do anything and the things I learned have carried me through some very hard times. I loved this beautiful man who gave so much to lift us all up.”

Pat McGuigan, publisher of The City Sentinel, wrote, “A memorable man. I covered his remarkable story only a couple of times, but never forgot him. I was sorry to hear of his passing.”

Thomas Stotts stated, “Hall was my commercial art teacher at Central State University in the 70’s. My dad new him from army days in the Korean War. He was a wonderful man. My life would be less rich had I not known him.”

Hall’s obituary stated, “Hall loved to travel and described himself as a ‘citizen of the world.’ It has been said that if you mentioned a place in the world, Hall would tell you when he was there, who he was with, and what they were doing. He remembered everyone he ever met. He would keep in touch with you if you ever met him.”

Former student Diane Kalousdian said, “I remember Hall from my Advertising Design classes at UCO back in the late 80’s when it was called Central State University. I remember that we bonded over our mutual love of traveling and different cultures. What a great man.”

Hall was a member of The Oklahoma City Kid Writers, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, The UCO Emeritus Faculty Association and the UCO Luminary Society.  

Hall was well cared for at the Lawton VA center in Oklahoma during the last year and a half of his life.

A virtual memorial was held on December 19. For updates, see Hall Duncan’s Facebook page.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Oklahoma Historical Society, Hope for Haiti’s Children, Nepal Youth Foundation, Global Ministries (Dominican Republic Children’s Ministry), St. Joseph’s Indian School, Salvation Army, Methodist Men of United Methodist Church, Edmond Historical Museum, Schools in Bourgaltroff and Guebling France, 101st Infantry, Yankee Division Club of Boston, or the Lawton Veterans Administration.

To learn more about Hall, visit hallduncan.com

Dr. Hall F. Duncan was a former university professor of advertising design, illustration and cartooning. One of his students gave him his pen name, “Dr. D.”.
In 2012, Hall Duncan carried the University of Central Oklahoma mace, which he designed, as he led the inauguration procession of President Don Betz. UCO photo
The people of Pilsen, Czech Republic, cheer on May 7, 2017, as a Jeep passes by bearing Oklahoma World War II combat veteran Hall Duncan (foreground in blue). Photo Provided by Yankee Division Veterans Association.