When you work at a great place like we do at 101 ESPN, the office becomes just like your home, and your co-workers become your second family.
Well, our family is suffering after our brother Chris Duncan lost his mother on Thursday. Jeanine Duncan battled brain cancer valiantly for 22 months, and was a beacon of courage throughout. When she was diagnosed in August of 2011, we saw Chris’ quiet strength and heard the stories of how hard she battled.
When we were stunned by Chris’ own diagnosis of a similar tumor – a glioblastoma – late last September, his mom and dad made the trek back to Duke Medical Center, where she had been treated. Jeanine Duncan’s battle with the disease provided the family with a roadmap for how Chris should attack it.
There are a ton of stories that Chris and his brother Shelley have from a childhood in which their dad was on the road with a ballclub, and their mortified mom was the one who had to deal with the consequences of their mischief on the golf course they lived on in Tucson. They would place needles in the grass about an inch apart around the perimeter of a golf hole, giggling as they watched golfers hit a perfect putt, only to watch it hit an invisible wall. They found a perfect spot in a course restroom to shoot unsuspecting golfers with their new BB gun. Mom had to smooth things over.
When Dave Duncan got home, he had to head over to the clubhouse to find out what fellow club members had to endure from his sons, and then head to the house to take care of the punishment. Jeanine was able to laugh about it later. When Chris forgot his wife Amy’s birthday the first year they were married, we called Jeanine to join us in “The Fast Lane,” and she was a good sport in playing a game of who knew Chris better, her or Amy.
For those who spent time around Dave and Jeanine Duncan, it was apparent that, if opposites attract, they were a perfect match. She was vivacious and outgoing, he’s silent and reserved. Mrs. Duncan was always willing to talk about her family, always anxious to ask how you were doing. And when you talk to Chris and Shelley, it’s clear their personalities fall more on their mom’s side. The funny, energetic and gregarious traits that Jeanine Duncan possessed were picked up by her sons. Interestingly, the quiet respect that Dave has for baseball was picked up by Chris, and no doubt Shelley. There used to be an unwritten code in baseball to respect your clubhouse elders, and Chris lived that as a player. He didn’t say much because he didn’t think it was his place in a veteran clubhouse. But once he got on the radio, his personality shined immediately.
That personality is what has endeared us to Chris, and caused us to worry about his mother, and then him. She was the quintessential baseball wife, raising the kids while her husband was away from February to October, and Chris’ love and appreciation for her has always been evident. We had the chance to see Jeanine at a holiday party at Chris and Amy’s house in December, and she was as genial as ever despite what she was dealing with.
We share our brother Chris’ pain in the loss of his mom. He’s family, and she was family. Dave – Papa Dunc – is a regular on the station, too, and we can’t imagine what he’s going through right now.
But we do know that the Duncan family and the Cardinal family got unconditional love from Jeanine Duncan, one of those people you always remember if you had the pleasure of meeting her. She’ll be missed by all of us at 101 ESPN.