Local Obituaries

Thomas D. 'Tom' Duncan, former journalist and coal-industry spokesman, dies at 83

Thomas Duncan
Thomas Duncan

Thomas D. "Tom" Duncan, a longtime newspaper and television journalist who served as president of the Kentucky Coal Association for almost 20 years, died Tuesday night at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington. He was 83.

Mr. Duncan, who held bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kentucky, began his journalism career in 1947 working for the Lexington Leader, the Lexington Herald and the Associated Press before joining The Courier-Journal's Bowling Green bureau. He then became an on-air reporter for WAVE-TV in Louisville.

Mr. Duncan left journalism in 1972 and was director of information services at the University of Kentucky for two years. As president of the Kentucky Coal Association from 1974 to 1990, Mr. Duncan was the main spokesman for the state's coal industry, never hesitating to criticize newspaper editorialists who attacked coal operations.

"He had the broad knowledge of the state, the intellectual curiosity about politics, the integrity and the drive to tell a story that should have led him to a top editorial post at the C-J, had he not left the paper to earn a larger salary in order to educate his four children," said longtime friend Al Smith, former host of KET's Comment on Kentucky.

Mr. Duncan is survived by his children, Dr. Thomas Duncan of Lexington, Ben Duncan of Park Hills, Helen Duncan Gavin of Burlington and Jane L. Duncan Tanner of Louisville; and six grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Milward Funeral Directors on North Broadway, with burial in Lexington Cemetery. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader