Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Memorial Tribute for Dan Duncan

A few weeks ago one of my clients, Dan Duncan, a well known businessman and philanthropist, passed away. His passing was unexpected and we were just days away from shooting new footage for a another tribute video on the Duncans. Both Dan and his wife Jan were chosen as the 2010 Tapestry Award recipients by Interfaith Ministries, a local non-profit whose mission is for all faiths to work together to create a more compassionate society.

Right after Dan passed away, Jan asked me if we could create a tribute to be shown at his memorial service, a week away. We had worked very closely with the Duncans previously, and while I’m usually not eager to work on memorial videos because of the short turn around time, I agreed because of my fondness for the Duncans and how much I enjoy working with them.

We ended up using a pretty good size piece of a previous video that focused on Dan’s personal history and expanded on that, adding in details about his work accomplishments, family, travel and hobbies. Fortunately we had quite a bit of previously unused footage we shot at the end of 2008 that we were able to utilize in the memorial. At one point, Jan and I were sitting together going over all the footage we’d shot of Dan talking about his life and she turned to me and said, “we are so lucky we have all this!” I couldn’t have agreed more.

I spend all the time that I’m not creating videos about my clients, writing and speaking about how important it is to capture the stories of those close to you while they are with you. Not a day goes by where I’m not talking with someone that says, “I wish I had met you last year, before my (close relative) died.” It saddens me to hear these stories because I understand that once they are gone, there’s no way of going back to capture video. We’ve done several posthumous pieces with photos and text but it’s not the same as hearing the stories directly in a video that communicates that person’s experiences and wisdom along with the ability to hear their voice and see their smile. Video is so powerful because of this.

After a week of coordinating the collection of new materials from several sources, the writing of a new script, recording new voiceover, and editing a brand new video, the piece was completely finished about 12 hours before the service. Jan and I did a final proof at 3AM and we hand-delivered it to Second Baptist Church at 9AM.

If you’ve never been to Second Baptist, it has a beautiful sanctuary with three huge video screens that come down out of the ceiling. I normally like to scan the audience while they are watching my videos to see their reaction but I was mesmerized watching the three video screens. I had never seen one of our videos played on such a large screen, let alone three!

As I left the church, watching people in the atrium meet and talk about the service and the video, I was struck at the impact of what I was experiencing. The people in attendance, if they didn’t already know Dan, went away knowing who he was. As Jan told me later, we had captured the true spirit of Dan’s generous and kind heart, and I believe that too. We had created something that will continue to speak for Dan long into the future, well after all his current living relatives are gone. The future will know him as he wanted to be known, for the compassionate and generous man he was.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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