Great monuments and memorials stand as speechless sentinels of the past. From the Washington Memorial to the Pyramids of Giza, memorials remind us of those who came before and what they stood for.
When local coaching legend Bobby Duncan died earlier this year at age 58, there were many who wanted to make sure that his impact on the community as a coach, teacher, role model and mentor was not soon forgotten.
After Duncan’s death, a committee was formed that requested renaming Southeastern Stokes Middle School’s gym in the coach’s honor. The Stokes County Board of Education recently granted the request, so the gym will soon be known as The Bobby W. Duncan Memorial Gymnasium, although coaches will tell you that it has lovingly been called the “Duncan Dome” for years.
Those who knew Duncan say that it is a fitting memorial for a man who gave so much to his school and community. Duncan taught at Southeastern for more than 30 years. Before retiring in 2012, Duncan had also served as the school’s athletic director for 20 years.
“Basically, his entire career was at this school,” Principal Rhonda Jackson said. “He has touched a lot of lives in the community.”
Jackson said that in renaming the gym, the school will create a lasting memory of Duncan and conversation with the past. The memory of Duncan holds many lessons, Jackson said.
“It gives students something to aspire to. There are people still out there that dedicate themselves to their jobs and their community,” she said. “You don’t see that anymore, or at least it’s not as prominent as it used to be. It’s a great legacy to leave as other generations come through.”
At the present moment, it is hard to find a generation that hasn’t been touched by Coach Duncan in some way. Duncan’s friend and former colleague Jimmy Via said that as a coach, Duncan had taught or coached three generations. When he retired in 2012, Duncan had been teaching and coaching the grandchildren of the kids he met when first started at Southeastern in the early 1980s.
“His whole world revolved around this school,” Via said.
Via said that the committee that was formed to rename the gym in Duncan’s honor was designed to show respect for a man that gave his life to his school and community.
“He meant so much to so many kids,” Via said. “He would do anything for anybody.”
Via said that Coach Duncan had a great attitude and disarming disposition that put you at ease. Duncan was the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off his back, Via said.
“That was just Bobby.”
Duncan left behind a legacy that reminded us that we all need to help each other out, Via said. “That was what was most important to him.”
Both Via and Jackson wish that Coach Duncan was still around to see the gym renamed in his honor.
“I think he would be very proud, and very humbled by the outpouring of support from people that wanted this building named,” Jackson said.
“If he could see us today, I think he would be laughing and say, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty cool,’” Via said.
“We wanted to make sure Bobby wasn’t forgotten,” Via said.