An inspiration to all who knew her
JOAN Duncan, who died in Coffs Harbour last month at the age of 80, spent a lifetime learning, teaching and travelling.
Ms Duncan, who moved to Coffs Harbour about 18 years ago, was well known for her inquiring mind, her active involvement in the community; her love of art, music, travel and learning and her forthright opinions.
A member of various community groups, including U3A; Dunecare; CWA and Korora VIEW Club, Joan Duncan always got involved, wrote letters and 'stirred things up', said her niece Annette Edwards.
Born in Kyneton in Victoria in September 1928, just in time for the Great Depression, she was the youngest of five children of Margaret and David Duncan.
After her mother died when Joan was nine, an aunt and uncle took her to live with them in Melbourne, where she became dux of her school at Hartwell and gained a scholarship to business college.
Her first job was as a secretary, where she mastered shorthand -the first 'language' of many she learned during her life.
She worked on the famous Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme in administration and joined in the reunion held in 2005.
She also worked for the NSW Dental Association and recently has been trying to have changes made to that section of the health system.
She later became a TAFE college teacher and coaxed the best out of students in Orange, Glen Innes and North Sydney.
In 1952, aged 24, she began travelling, cruising to London via the Suez Canal aboard the SS Largo and undertaking a grand tour around Europe and England. Her adventures even included the coronation of the young Queen Elizabeth II, two years older than Joan, on June 2 1953.
An avid reader and voracious researcher, she travelled the world following her interests and learned French, Spanish, and even Japanese and Cantonese.
She loved art and classical music and her intellectual curiosity was not blunted by age.
She travelled to Ireland to study James Joyce and his novel Ulysses; her Mayan research in South America was halted only by medical problems with a hip and she was overseas again last year studying with Japanese monks.
It is no surprise she was one of the instigators of the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Coffs Harbour about 16 years ago.
U3A Coffs Harbour president Bruce Moon said she took a lot of interest in running the organisa- tion and developing its constitution. She served several terms as president and ran varied courses including in music and religion as well as joining many classes as a student, including his own Life Stories course and was a member of the fortnightly U3A Music Appreciation Group until her death.
An active member of the Arts Council and Coffs Harbour City Council's Arts Advisory Committee, she was also a valued volunteer at the regional gallery and in 2007 conducted a U3A art and philosophy short course there.
Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery public programs and education officer Sue McEntyre paid tribute to Joan Duncan this week.
“She was a passionate advocate for the development of the arts within the community,” said Ms McEntyre.
“Her presence will be missed among the gallery community and staff.”
Briefly married but childless herself, Joan was passionate about her family and its history, and she was the catalyst for keeping the many arms of the family together.
She died unexpectedly at her home and her funeral was held at St John's Anglican Church, Coffs Harbour, on April 15, followed by burial in the Coffs Harbour Lawn Cemetery.