A great loss for the city

Billionaire Dan Duncan dies unexpectedly at his home

Billionaire Dan Duncan dies unexpectedly at his home

One of the city's most generous philanthropists, billionaire Dan L. Duncan, 77, passed away unexpectedly at his River Oaks home Sunday night, according to information released today from Enterprise Products Partners. Duncan headed Enterprise, Duncan Energy Partners and Enterprise GP Holdings as chairman.

Duncan and his wife, Jan, have been visionary leaders in their support of medical causes that have included generous contributions across the Texas Medical Center. In 2006, the Duncan family rocked statewide philanthropic traditions and set records with a $100 million gift to Baylor College of Medicine. That was followed by a $35 million gift to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a $50 million gift to Texas Children's Hospital.

Earlier this year, he was named the 74th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, which put his wealth at $9 billion, a figure that placed him at the top of Houston's wealthiest. 

A low-key and soft-spoken entrepreneur from Center in East Texas, Duncan attended Massey Business College and studied finance and accounting at South Texas College in McAllen. He co-founded Enterprise Products Co. in 1968 and took Enterprise Products Partners public in 1998. 

"The entire Enterprise family mourns the unexpected passing of Dan Duncan who will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," said Michael A. Creel, Enterprise president and CEO.

He will also be mourned by a broad swath of Houstonians whose lives that he and Jan have touched through their philanthropy that included not only writing the mega checks but encouraging doctors and researchers in their missions and also frequently opening their home for the charitable causes that were near to their hearts. In particular, they hosted a number of key events on behalf of Texas Children's.

Mark Wallace, Texas Children's president and CEO, told CultureMap on Monday ,"This is a huge loss for a lot of individuals and for a lot of institutions. He impacted so many lives and careers And then he had this macro influence on institutions."

"Dan Duncan could have been the most well-known name in the city," Wallace added. "But he wasn't interested in that . . . He really never sought the limelight. In fact, he shied away from it."

M.D. Anderson president Dr. John Mendelsohn, released a statement Monday afternoon. "It is with immeasurable sadness and that l learned today of the passing of Dan Duncan. The city of Houston, and indeed the nation, have lost a wonderful man and philanthropic pioneer who leaves behind a legacy of generosity and advocacy across health care disciplines and so many humanitarian endeavors."

The Duncans were married for 20 years. In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children and four grandchildren. Wallace believes that they will continue the tradition of philanthropy that made Duncan "one of the greatest philanthropists in the history of the city, in the history of Texas." 

"It will continue," he said, "with Jan and with Dan's children and his vision for our city and for the Texas Medical Center."

Arrangements are being handled by Geo. H. Lewis & Sons. A celebration of Duncan's life will take place at Second Baptist Church April 6 at 1 p.m.

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Dan Duncan Courtesy photo
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Jan and Dan Duncan Photo by Fulton Davenport: PWL Studio
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