Paul Duncan, a longtime local businessman, passes away

Photos courtesy of Duncan Automotive
Paul Duncan bought a Studebaker dealership in 1959 and began his career in the automotive world.

Paul Duncan, a longtime local businessman passed away Saturday. He was 86 years old.

Paul Duncan, a local businessman and philanthropist, was known for his many car dealerships in the area as well as his contributions to New River Community College, including the funding of various scholarships.

Christiansburg Mayor Michael once worked for Duncan and commented on Monday that he would be remembered both as a businessman and an outstanding citizen.

“He was one of the finest and nicest people I ever worked for,” he said.

Over the past 50 years, Duncan owned and operated as many as nine automotive dealerships ranging from Pulaski to Rocky Mount. Today, his sons manage most of the businesses.

His story is one of “rags to riches” with an instinct for selling things. As a teenager, he bought bicycles that he repaired and resold.

He grew up in Pilot, attending Auburn High School, but quit right after he turned 17. Duncan then sold Miracle Made cookware in West Virginia and was pretty good at it, being named the company’s top seller.

In 1955, he bought a gas station and a used car lot, riding a train to other areas of the country to buy cars and bring them back to the New River Valley.

Four years later, he bought a Studebaker dealership in the area and the Duncan automotive network was born.

In 1963, he bought Phillips Ford, which would later become Holiday Ford and now Duncan Ford.

Just a year later, Ford Executive Lee Iacocca gave him a ’64 Ford Mustang convertible in a sales contest.

He would sell the car and then buy it back years later. It now sits to the rear of a family museum at one of his dealerships.

Over the years, Duncan collected close to 50 cars, buying and selling at auctions while keeping his prized vehicles for private display.

In 2014, Paul and his son, Gary, earned the state’s community college’s Chancellor’s Award for leadership in philanthropy. New River Community College (NRCC) nominated them for the award after a land donation to the school.

In 2015, Duncan was given an honorary degree from New River—the first ever given by the school. He has endowed several scholarships at NRCC.

Many people in the community remember his trademark slogan: “work a half day six days a week.” He will be missed as a wheeler and dealer in the automotive world.

The family will receive friends for visitation from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, March 16 and a reception from 6-8 p.m. at Duncan Ford Lincoln showroom, US 460 business, 125 Jennelle Road, Blacksburg.

Funeral Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, March 17 at Blacksburg United Methodist Church. Graveside services will be private.

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