George L. Duncan passed away peacefully at his home in Peterborough, NH, on Monday, March 19. He was 82 years old. Born in New York City on April 16, 1935, he was the only child of George E. Duncan, born in Canada, and Beatrice Maher Duncan, born in Ireland. He grew up on West 169th Street in Washington Heights on Manhattan’s Upper West Side—a blue-collar, middle-class Irish and German-Jewish neighborhood. He attended Fordham Preparatory School and was a member of Troop 718, where he became an Eagle Scout. In 1957 he graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Arts. After college and ROTC, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army for two years of active duty from 1957 to 1959.
George quickly found his niche as an award-winning marketing copywriter. From 1960 to 1976, he held senior copy and promotion manager positions with Esquire Magazine, Ziff-Davis Publishing, Columbia House (CBS), and Xerox Education Publications. He started his own freelance copy and consulting business (Duncan Direct Associates) in 1976 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He later relocated to Peterborough, where he provided direct marketing copy to a national roster of publishers, software companies, and marketers, including Kennedy Information where he worked from 1998 to 2008. His national awards included the John Caples Award, the Direct Marketing Association’s Echo Leader Award, the Folio: Direct Mail Award, the Newsletter Gold Award for 2002 and 2007, plus regional awards by the New England Direct Marketing Association and the New Hampshire Advertising Club.
Innovative, positive, and forward-looking, he contributed his time and leadership skills to many professional groups. He was a co-founder and president of The Vermont/New Hampshire Marketing Group, an organization that honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He was a founding member of the Software Association of New Hampshire and a Director of the New Hampshire High Technology Council and chaired the Council’s Marketing Forum. He published numerous articles in marketing and trade publications and web sites. His books included Streetwise Direct Marketing (2001) and Democracy Held Hostage (2009), a collection of Letters to the Editor written between 2004 and 2008.
George was a quick-witted, warm-hearted mensch with a mischievous sense of humor. He believed in the importance of social justice and civic engagement, and was a prolific writer of letters to media outlets and state and national politicians. Always up on current events, he loved politics and fine conversation. He was a terrific companion for discussing these topics whenever he was around town, picking up the newspaper at Steele’s or having breakfast at Nonie’s.
George believed strongly in service to others, in part born of his nearly 45 years of sobriety that he enjoyed after a life-changing experience with Alcoholics Anonymous. He loved Peterborough and the Monadnock Region and considered his friends and neighbors in the area to be like an extended family. He gave generously to the community, serving as President of the Peterborough Rotary Club, Scoutmaster of local Troop 2, Chairman of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce’s Business Support Committee, and as a member of the Peterborough Master Plan Economic Diversity and Cultural committees.
He was a lifelong learner who, in his 70s, began a course of study in Mental Health Counseling at Antioch University New England in Keene. He earned a certificate in Mindfulness and Psychotherapy from IMP in 2013 and was a Certified Recovery Coach.
After his semi-retirement in 2008, he turned much of his attention to creative writing and blogging. His personal essays and poetry were published in Ad Hoc Monadnock Online and Smoky Quartz. He became particularly active in the Monadnock Writers’ Group, where he served as President and later as Public Relations Officer until his death.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
George is survived by his daughter Laura Duncan, his son-in-law David Meichsner, and his granddaughter Julia Meichsner of Westford, Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his wife of 30 years, Sally. He is also survived by his dear friend Sheil Blinn.
Calling hours will be held Friday, March 23 from 5 to 7pm at Jellison Funeral Home, 25 Concord Street, Peterborough. Calling hours will also be held on Saturday, March 24 from 11:30am to 1:30pm with a funeral service beginning at 1:30 followed by burial at Pine Hill Cemetery. A celebration of life will follow at the Hilltop Golf Course, 49 High Street, Peterborough, from 3 to 5pm on Saturday, featuring one of George’s favorite bands, Tattoo.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in George’s name to New Hampshire Public Radio, 2 Pillsbury Street, 6th Floor, Concord, NH, 03301.