Harold Duncan was a fixture in Lodi for more than 43 years, 28 of them as a respected pastor at Century Assembly. He died Sunday at the age of 88.
Duncan and his wife Edwina came to Lodi in 1968, when the church was known as First Assembly of God at 105 S. Washington St., where the LOEL Center and Gardens is located today.
The church was renamed Century Assembly in 1974, and the first service at its current location — Century Boulevard and Hutchins Street — was held in January 1977.
Duncan retired as pastor in 1996, when another popular and well-known pastor, Dale Edwards, took over the pulpit. Duncan remained active at Century Assembly until about six months ago, when he began attending services conducted by his grandson, Jon Duncan, at Cross Culture Church in Lodi. He attended church as recently as a week before he died, son Doug Duncan said.
"Rev. Harold Duncan was truly a man on a mission," Edwards said in an email. "It is something to follow a man that had such a huge vision, dream and dedication."
It was Duncan's dream to build Century Arms, a 40-unit independent retirement apartment complex across from the church, Edwards said. He and his wife produced the "Singing Christmas Tree" for more than 25 years. Century Christian School was also part of Duncan's visionary leadership, Edwards added.
Jan Owen, who was church secretary from 1978 until her retirement last year, said Duncan saw her through the time she became a Christian in 1971. She worked for him 17 1/2 years.
"He was just a wonderful pastor and a friend and a boss," Owen said. "This was a man of integrity, someone who was very solid in his beliefs.
"His message was 'balance' — you balance your Christianity with your everyday life," Owen said. "You don't get so heavily minded that you're no earthly good. I never saw him get mad or upset at somebody. He may have been mad inside, but he never portrayed it."
The word "balance" also struck a chord with his son.
"He was one of those people where the course of life didn't change him or alter him," Doug Duncan said. "You were going to hear him with a song; you would hear them rejoice. He would not allow bitterness to be a part of his life."
The Duncans ministered together for 65 years.
"His wisdom, sense of humor and optimistic outlook on life in general were contagious," Edwards said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.