Michael Duncan – THA
Teacher, musician and actor Michael Anthony Duncan received a grand send-off on Friday, befitting his contribution to Tobago’s cultural and entertainment landscape.
During his funeral service at the St Patrick’s Anglican Church, Mt Pleasant, family and friends paid glowing tribute to the man who pioneered several musical groups in Tobago and was a mentor and friend to many budding performers.
Duncan, 71, died on August 10, after a brief illness.
He taught at several primary schools across Tobago, including Montgomery Government, Bon Accord Post Primary Centre, Hope Anglican and Buccoo Government.
Duncan was also at the forefront of groups such as the Minstrels, Cocrico Singers, Youthquake and the Pleasure Pirates
Delivering the eulogy, an emotional Aisha Duncan-Quashie described her father as the “shortest giant I know.”
She said he was a gift from God, who not only lived by his convictions and principles but tried to make everyone feel special.
Duncan-Quashie told mourners her father was raised in Mt Pleasant by his grandmother, a strict disciplinarian who moulded him in the Anglican church. This led to his involvement in the church’s youth movement.
She said Duncan’s love for music took off when “Mama’ got him his first guitar as a gift for passing the Common Entrance examination (now Secondary Entrance Assessment).
Duncan-Quashie also recalled her father, who played Rawle Walker in the 1984 local television soap opera Turn of the Tide, was a stickler for detail and hated mediocrity.
His charges, she said, were often taken to task for mispronouncing words in the national anthem and other nation-building songs.
She added he believed in the power of love and in people achieving their fullest potential.
Noted educator and former independent senator Dr Eastlyn Mc Kenzie taught Duncan in Sunday school classes at the church.
Describing him as her son, Mc Kenzie said they became extremely close during the filming of Turn of the Tide, where he was known for his punctuality at rehearsals.
She said they remained close up until his passing.
“Mike will always be a son to me. I will always love him,” she said.
Duncan’s grandchildren also did a short piece expressing their love for “Pappy.”
In his sermon, Archdeacon Philip Isaac recalled Duncan, whom he had known since childhood, had pioneered liturgical dance, drama and music in the Anglican church in the late 1970’s.
“It became part of the repertoire of the church,” he said.
Saying that Duncan had used his talents to uplift his fellow men, Isaac asked the congregation, “How do you spend your 24 (hours)?”
He said while many people may have envied Duncan, “We are all gifted with talents for God’s ordained purposes.”
Isaac added, “Let us ask God to show us our talents and to give us the courage to use them.”
He said Duncan may have helped people more under his stewardship than he has as a minister of religion.
Former THA assemblyman Cynthia Alfred also gave a tribute.
During the service, the members of the original Signal Hill Alumni Choir performed two songs, which were arranged by Duncan several years ago.
Duncan, who leaves to mourn his wife, Cheryl, four children and seven grandchildren, was laid to rest at the churchyard cemetery.