Remembering Randy Duncan: One of Iowa’s Greatest Athletes was an Even Better Friend

DES MOINES, Iowa -- State Champ, MVP, All-American, #1 draft pick…oh, the stories of Randy Duncan.

“Randy was always the guy you wanted to sit next to,” said longtime friend, Jim Cownie of Des Moines.

You wanted to hear of his part in Iowa’s last Rose Bowl title--of being drafted first overall by the Packers…and maybe he’d oblige.

“But he was also interested in you and what you were doing and how your life, and your career and your family were," added Doug Reichardt, a friend of Duncan's since he was a child, "and he was selfless.”

And that--more than any honors or trophies--was the real man.

“He never relied on the old days for his self-esteem," said Cownie. "His came on a day-to-day basis.“

If you want to learn of Randy Duncan, you don’t watch highlights, you listen to his friends.

“Anytime you wanted to get out of the house and have a beer," Reichardt remembered, "you’d say ‘I’m going out with Randy’ and that’s because all the wives loved him and they’d say ‘Sure, go out and have a beer with Randy, that’d be great.’"

“Randy never forgets people," said Cownie, a few weeks before Duncan's death. "The people he made friends with in high school, he is still friends with.”

Duncan had his own group he admired…among them was Bill Reichardt, another former football star, who, like Duncan, became an active and vital cog in the Des Moines business and social communities.

“They were best friends," said Reichardt of his father and Duncan, "and they actually loved each other. In a man’s way.”

This is a tough day for Doug Reichardt, having to look back now on both of his mentors.

Duncan’s long battle with cancer gave his many friends a chance to prepare, but the closure is still to come.

Reichardt choked up as he recalled the last time he spoke with Duncan, just recently.

“He shook my hand…and I told him I loved him. And he said ‘I love you, too.’”

All can see that Randy Duncan lived an extraordinary life—one he was reluctant to talk about, but eager to share.

Duncan is survived by his wife, Paula, and their sons, Jed and Scott.  He was 79.