A Jock and a Doc: Roosevelt Hall of Fame Names New Inductees
“I thought you’d never ask.”
If that had been Randy Duncan’s reaction when Roosevelt called to inform him he’d been tabbed for induction into the Roughrider Hall of Fame it would have been understandable. After all, Duncan was inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997. What took so long for his old high school to come calling? Maybe it was just a case of everyone assuming he must have been a made a charter member when the shrine was established in 1986.
Actually, his omission until now was hardly an oversight. He’s been nominated more than once and declined, a testament to the humility that is the inverse of his many accomplishments. The reason he relented this time around and accepted is because he was nominated by a current Roosevelt student.
Duncan, Class of 1955, was one of two inductees honored at the school today with a morning assembly followed by a luncheon.
He was a two-sport standout in high school. During his tenure Roosevelt’s football team lost only two games and was crowned state champs in 1954. He was also an excellent basketball player and led the Riders to a state runner-up finish on the hardwood in his senior year. And all that was just a warm-up.
Concentrating on football at the University of Iowa, Duncan led the Hawkeyes to two Rose Bowl victories, finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting and famously smooched blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, something his high school sweetheart and wife of more than fifty years, Paula, was apparently able to overlook. Duncan became the only Iowan ever to be the #1 pick in the NFL draft when he finished at Iowa and was selected by the Green Bay Packers. While playing for the Dallas Texans of the old AFL, Duncan entered law school at Southern Methodist University, eventually returning to Des Moines to complete his law degree at Drake University when his football career ended.
He has practiced law in Des Moines for over fifty years, and remains a partner at the firm of Duncan, Green, Brown and Langeness. Currently, he devotes most of his time to pro bono work on behalf of the less fortunate. In the 1970’s he successfully represented Roosevelt student athletes who challenged the school district’s eligibility policies. Some members of the girls’ swim team had competed all season as 9th graders at a time when middle school was still known as junior high and spanned grades 7-9. District policies forbade students who did not attend a high school from representing that school at state meets even if they otherwise qualified.
Duncan’s remarks to the current Roosevelt students were characteristically brief and self-effacing. He encouraged them to ignore anyone who tries to tell them their opportunities are limited and he spoke from the personal experience of someone who has always distinguished himself by eluding whoever and whatever tried to bring him down.
Joining one of the all-time great TRHS jocks in enshrinement this year is former pom-pom girl, Dr. Kathleen Schwarz, Class of 1960, the Director of the Pediatric Liver Center and a Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. She also directs the pediatric liver transplant program at that world renowned hospital.
At the time of her high school graduation, women doctors were rare, a fact that was noted in Dr. Schwarz’ nomination, filed on her behalf by seven of her old TRHS classmates. She joins her older sister Julie Brogan Northrup, who was inducted in 1989, as the only pair of siblings in the Roosevelt HOF. So their rivalry goes on. Dr. Schwarz told her audience that she wanted to be a doctor early on because a brother she never knew succumbed to cancer at the age of three, a year before she was born.
Dr. Schwarz’ induction is just the latest in a string of recognitions. In 2012, she was elected President of the Federation of International Societies of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; in 2011, she received the Washington University Medical School Alumni Achievement Award and she is a past recipient of the Scripps College Lois Langland Alumna-in-Residence Award.
“The TRHS community is extremely proud of Mr. Duncan and Dr. Schwarz. These extremely accomplished alumni serve as examples to our students that you can dream big and find success in many ways,” said Kathie Danielson, Roosevelt Principal.
Mr. Duncan and Dr. Schwarz are the 62nd and 63rd inductees since the Roosevelt Foundation established the Hall of Fame to recognize and honor outstanding alums. Their places are long-reserved and well-deserved.