Hall Duncan Townsquare
Dr. Hall Duncan is the most energetic 94-year-old you will ever meet. He’s still actively traveling the world, writing and illustrating children’s books, and bringing awareness to important causes that affect youth. In September, his work on behalf of children was repaid when a village in France named their town square in his honor: Hall Duncan Place.
“I’ve returned to France four times to retrace the battlefields where I fought during World War II,” Duncan said. “This was my final visit to Bourgaltroff, and before I left, I was taken to the town square. I was so surprised when the mayor dedicated it in my honor. It was very moving. The French really show their emotions, and I did too. We all began to cry.”
It was 74 years ago that Duncan was an ally soldier stationed in Bourgaltroff and the nearby village of Gue�����bling, which was a Nazi headquarters. Most of Duncan’s regiment was lost, and he was wounded. Because he was deeply affected by his wartime experience, Duncan has remained in contact with both towns. For many years, Duncan has sent proceeds from his published books to help buy books and technology for their school children. He views them as his adopted children, and they know him as their “American Dad.”
In 2011, Duncan and his late wife, Lois, were present in Gue�����bling for the dedication of a monument in honor of Oklahoman, Ruben Rivers. Rivers, a heroic tank sergeant of African American and Cherokee heritage, was tragically killed in the same battle in which Duncan fought. Although the two never met, it was on Duncan’s suggestion that the stone memorial was created.
“The mayor, whose family farm was once under Nazi occupation, was appreciative of the American soldiers who died for his people, so he was supportive of the monument idea,” Duncan said. “We did build it, and I was at the dedication. After a parade and school children singing, I read an acceptance speech in French that I’d prepared.”
In recent years, Duncan has received various honors for his WWII service, including a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the planting of a veteran’s tree in his name. Next year, villagers from France plan to visit the United States to honor Duncan at a military ceremony at the College of the Ozarks.
Despite Duncan’s strong ties with France, his connections stretch across international boundaries. He’s spent considerable time in South Africa, where he attended college and worked as a missionary. Duncan taught cartooning and advertising design for seventeen years at the University of Central Oklahoma, and after retiring, he began writing and illustrating children’s books full-time. The proceeds from each of his books are dedicated to a specific cause.
Duncan’s current passion is to bring awareness to child slavery, an issue which captured his attention during his travels to Singapore and the Caribbean. When Duncan’s research revealed a disturbing number of child molestation cases here in central Oklahoma, he directed his efforts toward raising money for local treatment centers.
Although this 94-year-old now relies on a walker, he has no intentions of letting age slow him down–he has too many causes close to his heart. The people of France aren’t the only ones appreciative of Duncan’s humanitarian work, but their effort of putting his name on a town square sign on the other side of the world means a lot to Hall Duncan.
“I really love the people in France. I’ve tried to be part of their life because their ancestors suffered a lot. I feel so loved and respected that there’s now a memorial to me.”