Longtime City Council member Lee Duncan
He was Tampa's longest-serving member, with nine terms that spanned five decades.
By Times staff writer
Published April 3, 2007
TAMPA - Lee Duncan, whose tenure on the City Council spanned five decades, died Saturday (March 31, 2007) of natural causes. He was 89.
He served nine terms from 1951 to 1991, making him the council's longest serving member. He was particularly proud of his efforts to save and restore the historic Tampa Theatre, which reopened in 1977.
Mr. Duncan considered the movie palace the most beautiful theater in the South and said it was made "for the most beautiful people, the people in Tampa." The theater's auditorium was named after him.
He also was involved in Tampa Sister Cities, a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates partnerships between U.S. and international communities. He helped Tampa Sister Cities adopt Barranqilla, Colombia, creating Tampa's first partnership with an international city.
Mr. Duncan was a member of the Tampa Sports Authority, and was awarded the E. Harris Drew Award by the National League of Cities. He also was one of the founders of the Hispanic Heritage Committee.
Mr. Duncan faced the biggest battle of his political career when he got caught up in a fraud investigation involving Key Bank of Florida. He was eventually cleared of all charges.
His family remembers him as a loving father and devoted council member who loved Tampa, which he called his city.
"He wasn't like politicians you see now. He was just an average guy who loved us and the people in the city of Tampa," his daughter, Anna Lee, said.
Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco said Mr. Duncan's "life was politics," and that he liked it when people came up to him in the street and told him their problems with city services.
"To Lee, if you shook hands, that was as good as any written contract with 10 lawyers today," Greco said. "It was a different time. Those people in that era loved serving, and it was their way of giving back to a city that had given him so much."
Mr. Duncan is survived by his wife, Anna Duncan; a daughter, Anna Lee Duncan; and a son, Joseph Lee. Services will be held Wednesday, April 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Marsicano Funeral Home in Tampa.
Times Staff Writer Sherri Day contributed to this report.