Neill Wyche Duncan, 83, died peacefully in his sleep on May 16th, in Jonesborough, TN and with his family by his side. He is survived by his sons Bill (wife Carmen) and Shaw (wife Caroline), three cherished grandchildren (Felix, Ruby and Graham), his sister Sara Lee Lower and brother Bill Duncan, along with his nieces and nephews (Roy Lower, Randy Lower, Janet Cundiff, Rhett Hamiter, Todd Hamiter, Brad Duncan, Patti Russell, and Libby Bond), and a host of dear in-laws. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 50 years, Margaret Elliott, his parents, Ira and Julia Duncan, and his sister Louise Hamiter.
Neill was born on March 16, 1938 in Maxton, NC, a town he always called home. He recalled hot summers of playing baseball, bible schools, and the kind of large family reunions that only happen when loving families live close by. After graduating from high school in Maxton, he attended the University of South Carolina’s pharmacy school. He put himself through school by working full time, fondly recalling living with his sister Louse and hitchhiking back and forth between Maxton and Columbia. He returned home to work at Laurinburg Memorial hospital and other local pharmacies, and then opened Maxton Drug Company, which he ran for 39 years. He took tremendous pride in being in a ‘service profession’ for the community as he liked to call it, one in which the store was open seven days a week, compounded prescriptions as needed, and did home deliveries. Shelves behind the counter were filled with odds and ends that had been given to him over the years that he took great joy in telling stories about. He particularly appreciated his time working at the store with family members (especially E.B. Foxworth and Sara Ellen Smith) and his many beloved students.
Neill was a lifelong and devoted member of St. Paul’s UMC in Maxton. He rose early (often with his friend John Blue and other men of the church) to work on the annual Bazaar and Fish Fry, and always took particular pleasure in helping kids in arts and crafts during vacation bible school. Above all, Neill lived his faith daily. He liked to say that he was ‘not a worrier’ and that was certainly true. He was the same unassuming, content, optimistic, generous man until the day he passed.
Neill loved his family dearly, especially his wife Margaret. As her health progressively failed over the last few years, he could not have been more present or loving for her. As a father, Neill also couldn’t have been more supportive or nurturing of any spark of interest he saw in his boys. He made breakfasts, got them to school, helped his wife coach their baseball teams, and celebrated each victory and accomplishment they had at every stage in life. Each letter he wrote them while they were in college ended by letting them know how much he loved them and the advice to just ‘do your best.’ Few things gave him as much joy as his sisters or brother coming through Maxton for a visit, and he never failed to beam anytime his beloved nieces and nephews came up in conversation. He loved his friends like they were family, because to him they were.
The Duncan family is especially grateful for the excellent medical care he received over the years, especially from Drs. Faulkenberry and Sweet locally, Dr. Moses and the ICU team at Vanderbilt University, and ultimately, the friends who cared for him at home, Susan Mick, Vashti Perry, Tish Rittenour, Heather Mitchell, and Noelle Blumberg.
Services will be arranged at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the general fund at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Maxton, NC. https://spumcmaxton.org/