Johanna Alexandra Duncan (née Brummell) turned 100 years old on February 19. She’s the mother of seven – five of whom are her own and two she adopted and accepted as her birth children. She is also the surrogate mother of numerous sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, sons- and daughters-in-law and many others she mentored, taught or befriended during her 100-year journey.
Johanna Duncan was born in 1912 on the Essequibo Coast of Guyana, bringing the number of children in the family to nine with Anim Brummell, Clemmie Cummings, Georgie Clay, John Brummell, Kathleen Marks, Victorine George, Maud Clarke and Headley Brummell. Of the three brothers and six sisters, Johanna is the sole survivor.
Their parents were John and Princess Brummell and it was under their nurturing that the family became very close-knit, rich in love, strong in faith and couched in courage.
Johanna and her sisters were all strong and independent, passionate about life, yet kind and generous. They all looked out for each other. Her brothers were very hard-working family men.
Kate, as her siblings called her, became a teacher at an early age. She loved singing, children, education, figures and books and had a very sound mind. On December 28, 1938, she married a fellow Essequibian, Charles Adolphus Duncan, brother of Kathleen Giddings, a Plaisancian. They shared almost 40 years of married life. Charles – Uncle Charles or Mr. Duncan as many knew him – died on October 17, 1978.
Their children, Gladys (husband Stanley Munroe now deceased), Ransford (wife Joan Haynes also deceased), Ercille (deceased, husband Leroy Small), Hector (wife Util Collins), Dolly (husband Gordon Daniels), Pauline (husband Clarence Williams) and Lynette (husband Robert Benjamin) were all fortunate to be raised by strong, capable, strict, but loving, God-fearing parents.
Johanna Duncan was a loving wife and an industrious woman, particular about her home. She was devoted to her children and her extended family, and of course, a friend to many.
For several years, Mrs. Duncan, who moved to Ogle Front on the East Coast of Demerara, was a faithful member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church where she served and directed the Mothers’ Union Organization. A career woman, she worked as an educator for 32 years, a seamstress, managed a cafeteria and owned and operated a preschool establishment preparing the foundation for many boys and girls who today are successful professional men and women.
Two of her daughters also found their calling in the field of education; Ercille Small, now deceased, was principal in the Guyana Public School system and Dr. Gloria Daniels, PhD in Psychology/Counselling is a Professor at Jackson State U. Three grand-daughters also followed the same path – Dr. Carol Duncan, PhD., Religious Studies, is at Western University; Vonda-Kaye Oketch is a principal with the Toronto District School Board and Denise Benjamin is a teacher with the Peel District School Board.
Charles and Kate Duncan were well known and well liked in their home village and in the Ogle/Plaisance areas where they resided. Their union produced 20 grand-children, 18 great grand-children and one great, great grand-child. Their legacy is laced with words of wisdom such as independence, persistence, faith in God, good work ethics, ownership, commitment to set goals and, most of all, love of family and humankind.
If you were to ask this centenarian to what she attributes her longevity, she would say, “faith in God, the kindness and loving care of those who surround her night and day, and commitment to living”.
The years have taken their toll on her physical form, but her faith has never wavered. We congratulate and celebrate Johanna Alexandra Duncan who continues to be a blessing to those who come into contact with her.
Text provided by Mrs. Duncan’s family.