Michael Ware Duncan passed away on August 31, 2021 at the age of 72 in Clearwater, Florida. He is survived by his wife Jean K. Duncan of Clearwater, FL, his son David W. Duncan of Denver, CO, his daughter Laura K. Duncan of Orlando, FL, and his two younger sisters Patricia D. Smith of Denver, CO and Dr. Paula J. Curran of Sherborn, MA. He was predeceased by his parents Robert S. and Margaret W. Duncan, both of St. Petersburg Beach, FL, and his brother-in-law Jim Smith of Denver, CO.
Mike had an uncanny ability to leave an impression of fondness on those he met. From his kind and affable nature he enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. His co-workers universally became friends. For his entire life, people often commented how much they liked him after meeting him.
A lover of books, history, films, and genealogy, Mike always wanted to know how things worked, why historic events happened the way they did, and details about his family history. His favorite place to find information was at the Dunedin and Palm Harbor libraries, where he spent many hours reading, doing research, and taking classes.
Mike was a person always in motion. He loved travel and the rewards of exploration. Once while visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, he spontaneously started hiking down alone into the canyon in the morning and ended up making it down to the bottom and back up by the end of the day without any preparation, water, or prior inclination. More than anything, Mike loved visiting his children as they moved to different cities, Laura to Greenville, SC and then Chicago, IL. And David to New York City, NY and then San Francisco, CA. Mike explored and walked for hours with his children in each city, visiting oddities and unusual things off the beaten path. When not visiting his children, Pittsburgh was Mike’s favorite place to travel. As his birthplace, he would research before each trip, finding things there from his youth to visit. He often said how much he enjoyed being there, even when he had no specific plans.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA on December 10, 1948, Mike moved often with his family during childhood until his parents settled in Tampa in the 1950s, where they bought the Ye Ole Hitching Post Motel on Gandy Blvd as their home. Mike had a tireless work ethic, even at a young age, helping his parents prepare rooms for new guests and run the motel. Mike attended Christ the King Catholic School then Jesuit High School in Tampa, graduating in 1966. He was a member of the SAE fraternity at the University of South Florida where he earned his BA in Economics.
While working at Kash n’ Karry grocery store, he met lifelong friend Jim Smith. Mike and Jim had great adventures, camping together as they drove from Florida to Colorado and California. Along the way they explored the country, from hiking to mountain hot springs to taking various odd jobs to fund their travels. Upon returning to Tampa, they both began careers as wine salesmen at Bay Distributors (now known as Republic National Distributing Company). Both were soon promoted to the spirits division where they enjoyed successful careers. Jim eventually became family when Jim married Mike’s younger sister, Patricia.
As a salesman with the same company for over 20 years, Mike’s broad territory of clients extended from Tampa to Clearwater and from the beaches into Tarpon Springs. Each day was a long day in the car. Mike earned the respect of retailers on his route and had business relationships that became easy friendships. Mike wasn’t a typical salesman in the way normal sales are done. He succeeded by servicing his accounts as if he had a vested interest in their business and knowing who his clients were as people. He was acknowledged as the top salesman for multiple quarters in his career and received awards of recognition and several extended travel opportunities abroad because of his work achievements. After leaving Bay Distributors, he was often recognized by people in the community who would remember him from years before and comment that he always made their day.
In 1975, Mike married Tampa native Jean E. Kaiser who had also attended Christ the King Catholic School, but was a couple of grades younger. They rode the same school bus home, unaware they would meet again in college at the University of South Florida. After getting married, Mike and Jean moved to the other side of Tampa Bay to Clearwater, FL, where they raised two loving children, son David and daughter Laura. The family was a member of Light of Christ Catholic Church. Mike very much enjoyed being active in Boy Scouts with David, serving as a volunteer for weekly scout meetings, camping trips, and scouting ceremonies. David and Mike had many great trips together through scouting. Mike was enthusiastically involved with Laura’s school, travel team, and summer camp basketball that she loved and played for many years. Never missing a pick up or drop off for practices, games, and tournaments, Mike was there to watch every game and help out as a parent volunteer to support her team's needs. The two spent many happy seasons together enjoying this shared pastime.
In his later years, Mike returned to his grocery store roots, working at Albertsons and then Publix. He enjoyed his work and would go the extra mile, gaining the admiration of his colleagues. In his tenure with Publix, he didn’t miss a day of work in almost 12 years until he retired in 2020.
In early 2020, Mike suffered significant injuries from a fall. He worked tirelessly through extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy to recover as much of his prior ability as possible. He achieved a phenomenal amount of improvement, exceeding his doctor’s expectations for his progress. As described by his physical therapy team, he was the person that was always ready, worked harder than any other patient, and never complained, even during the toughest sessions. His family is deeply proud of his bravery and determination in the face of such difficult obstacles.
Mike was a person that positively affected and was liked by every person he came in contact with. He will be deeply missed and remembered in the community and especially by those who love him most.
Memorial service details to follow at a future time.
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