Tribute to a Titan

Dan Duncan's life celebrated following a private burial service

Dan Duncan's life celebrated following a private burial service

If  man is measured by the quantity and quality of those who turn out to pay their last respects, then Dan L. Duncan was indeed a giant among his peers.

Close to 4,000 highly-placed friends and admirers packed the worship center of Second Baptist Church on Tuesday afternoon for a service celebrating the life of the much-admired billionaire philanthropist. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott led the political ranks that filled the pews surrounding the Duncan family.

Leading members of the city's business, medical and philanthropic circles filled the ground floor of the vast sanctuary. The broad mix of players included Texas Children's Hospital CEO Mark Wallace, University of Houston president Renu Khator, civic leader Marc Shapiro, energy giant Rich Kinder and wife Nancy, NBA great Dikembe Mutombo, Houston Ballet's C.C. Conner, Texas Medical Center CEO Richard Wainerdi, world-famed heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley and wife Louise and famed criminal attorney Rusty Hardin.

Duncan, who died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage March 28 at age 77, was buried earlier in the day in private services at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in west Houston.

He was praised by Second Baptist senior pastor Ed Young who described the self-made energy mogul saying, "He was honest. He was humble. He was hardworking."

"He never forgot who he was and he never forgot his moorings," Young said. "He never forgot the basic principles of character that he learned at the feet of his mother and his grandmother in little Center, Texas."

From humble beginnings in East Texas, Duncan grew Enterprise Products Co. into one of the country's most successful group of midstream energy companies. The publicly-traded entities are worth an estimated $30 billion. Earlier this year, Forbes magazine named him the 74th richest person in the world, putting his wealth at $9 billion.

A brave and resolute Jan Duncan, her voice breaking only twice, gave the eulogy, rich with spirituality. "Dan and I were the stewards of God's gifts and we knew that we would be held accountable for how we used those gifts," she said.

The celebration included a video of Dan Duncan's life with excerpts from a video made last year about the couple's philanthropy. His basic philosophy, Duncan said, echoing the advice of his mother and grandmother, "Do the best you can every day."

A reception followed in the church atrium where well-wishers crowded around Duncan's widow and his four children. Among the heavy-hitters were Port Commissioner Elyse Lanier, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Kathy and Jeff Love, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Sonny and Jodie Jiles, Peter Wareing, Jim Crane, Tony Vallone, George Strake, John Poindexter, Pat and Dan Breen, Welcome Wilson Sr. and so many more.

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The atrium at Second Baptist Church was filled with well-wishers Monday, following the celebration of life program honoring the late Dan Duncan who was buried earlier in the day.
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Jan and Dan Duncan set statewide records with their philanthropy including a $100 million gift to Baylor College of Medicine. Photo by Fulton Davenport: PWL Studio
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