Thursday, May 12, 2016

Obituary: Frank Duncan (2016)

Obituary from the May 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is with great sorrow that we report the death of Frank Duncan, a stalwart socialist and a fascinating man. He joined the Glasgow branch in 1944, just after he had played a key role in organising the Glasgow apprentices’ strike. An Apprentices’ Charter, produced by the Clyde strike committee in 1937, had called for apprentices to have day release for technical training and the right to join a trade union. When these demands were flatly refused by the employers, Frank and his fellow apprentices went out on strike. During this period he attended open-air meetings in Glasgow, found the logic of the case for socialism irresistible and joined the Party.

He later became the supervisor of the telephone exchange in Cricklewood, North London and joined Paddington branch. Frank was a great cyclist (taking annual cycling tours of the Canary Islands), a huge enthusiast for brass band music and a regular attender at concerts of many kinds at the South Bank in London.

I first met him in the 1980s when, after a period of inactivity, he threw himself back into energetic activity as a member – and then long-time secretary – of Islington branch. To say that his energy was not easy to keep up with would be an understatement. Frank was someone who was a 24/7 socialist; everything he said or did referred to his deep principles. Everyone who knew him knew what he was all about. He had a great influence on the many young socialists who joined during that period and played a pivotal role in several election campaigns in Islington. His knowledge, enthusiasm and playful sense of humour will be missed.

1 comment:

imposs1904 said...

From the SPGB discussion forum:

"I remember meeting Frank in the mid 80s, it might have been during the Islington Parliamentary campaign. He was a really engaging and inspiring figure. He was the kind of socialist from his generation that engaged with the younger comrades coming through and made us feel welcome and at home, in contrast to some of the members who ended up in the Socialist Studies group. I have a memory of him with a electrical megaphone, creating all kinds of mischief on Upper Street in Islington and also telling the story of how he had recently been on a cruise where he had acted as a ping pong hustler. He had apparently spent about all week with his arm in a sling whilst the ping pong tournament had progressed, joining in at the final stages, having taken bets on his success at high odds and then demolished the opposition, he was apparently a very good table tennis player and his wining s had paid for the cruse, very sad to hear of his passing"
TK, SPGB North East Branch