T. Duncan MacVicar

Obituary of T. Duncan MacVicar

People have inquired about donations in memory of Duncan and our family has made a decision to provide suggestions.  We cannot schedule an actual memorial service at this time but we can go ahead so that others can benefit from your desire to donate in his name.  And we thank you very much.  We chose 2 or welcome a donation to your favorite charity.

1) Duncan loved our church, Los Altos United Methodist Church, and particularly the youth ministry program.  A special fund, the Duncan MacVicar Youth Fund has been established to support this program in his memory.  If you wish to contribute, you can do so in the following ways:
        - Mail a check made payable to LAUMC with Duncan MacVicar Youth Fund in the  memo line.  
           The address of LAUMC is 655 Magdalena Avenue, Los Altos, CA 94024.
        - Contribute to the Duncan MacVicar Youth Fund online at 
           https://laumc.onlinegiving.org/donate/login?  Once logged in, select the fund from the    
           drop down menu
         - Text a gift to (650)229-5200 and type Duncan and the gift amount in the text box.         
            Example:  Duncan  $100.00
2) Community Services Agency (CSA) of Mountain View and Los Altos was also near and dear to Duncan's heart and where he provided volunteer leadership as a member and President of the Board of Directors.  Gifts in Duncan's memory to CSA can be made as follows:
         - You can make an online gift at www.csacares.org/donate to help community members who 
            have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis 
         - Mail a check to CSA's General Fund at CSA, 204 Stierlin Road, Mountain View, CA 94043


T. Duncan MacVicar passed away at home on March 11 surrounded by his family.  The West Point gentle warrior courageously battled a rare mucosal melanoma and cutaneous melanoma for the last 3 years.

Duncan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 26th, 1944 to Dr. Donald and Jean MacVicar and welcomed by brother, Bob. He excelled in academics throughout his school years and was accepted to West Point where he graduated 8th in the class of ‘65.  He served on the Brigade Staff his senior year as well as served as President of the West Point Glee Club.

His love of music and singing was a defining characteristic his whole life.

Duncan’s military awards and service include duty in Vietnam, 626th Engineer BN 101st Airborne Division, Combat Engineer, Company Commander, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Air Medals, Army Commendation Medal at Livermore Research Lab and MA in Physics from UC Berkeley.

Jr. Physicist (Duncan) and teacher (Jeanne Knox)  met in Livermore and later married at the University of Kansas, Danforth Chapel in 1971.  They happily welcomed Bryn Marie in 1975 and introduced her to music and the wonderful adventures of travel.  Son-in-law, Chris, and 2 granddaughters, Chloe and Harper, completed the family and the travel adventures continued.  

Duncan resigned from the military to pursue a career in the high-tech world.  He enjoyed years at Hewlett-Packard and SpectraPhysics before starting his own consulting business, “MacVicar Associates”.   He also enjoyed working with start-ups and co-authored a book on entrepreneurship “Managing High-Tech Start Ups” with Darwin Throne.

Above it all, Duncan was devoted to a life of service to others. He brought knowledge, insight and goodness to the multitude of organizations in which he served.  He was a devoted member of Los Altos United Methodist Church and served in many capacities of service over the years. He was the oldest LAUMC Changemaker Fellow and chose a project that would benefit veterans in prison.  Singing in the church choir was a favorite activity that also led to concerts plus performances in a jazz quartet. Duncan and Jeanne were both choir members and treasured the memories created in cathedrals all over Europe. Duncan was talented at writing parodies of concert songs and limericks which would be performed as the choir and “groupies” gathered after the concerts for hilarious times together.   Duncan and Jeanne served as counselors for youth programs at LAUMC and loved the interaction with the high school choir, Starfire Singers. They loved to travel with 60+ teenagers (including Bryn) with trips to the Soviet Union, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, England, Scotland, Wales and Russia as the wall came down. The numerous choir tours experienced unforgettable peak moments and life experiences.  Recently, Duncan helped to initiate and led the LAUMC Cancer Support Group which will help others live with cancer. As an advocate of social justice, both Duncan and Jeanne served as members of the Accompaniment Team at LAUMC. They’ve worked tirelessly with this team to assist a Guatemalan mother and her children seek asylum in the US. After 3 years, that effort is still in process and in February, Duncan and Jeanne accompanied the mother and children as they appeared before a judge in the immigration court in SF. 

    Duncan always had a deep desire to be of service in his community.  In 2004, Jeanne and Duncan initiated the Los Altos/Hills Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society.  Jeanne was the inspiration and Duncan created the foundation for organizing this local relay that resulted in national recognition the first year.   In the early years, Bryn and Chris joined the cause and their efforts maintained the Los Altos/Hills Relay as one of the top Relays in the nation for a number of years.     


Duncan reached out to participate in the community as well.   He served on the board of the Community Services Agency and President in  2009-10 He was a member of SIRS (Sons in Retirement Society) and in 2017, served as Big Sir of SIR Branch 35.  Duncan had a deep desire to bring together the opposing factions of various charter school issues, and was actively involved in facilitating meetings to bring these groups together.  Later he was asked to serve on LASD’s 10th Site Committee, the Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force and more recently, the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. He also enjoyed assisting Jeanne in many Rotary service projects over the years, the most recent the restoration project at Shoup Park last fall.  Among his many awards and honors, he was the proud recipient of the John W. Gardner Building Community Award by the Los Altos Community Foundation.

A Vietnam veteran who personally experienced post-traumatic stress, Duncan MacVicar was a consultant with California Veterans Legal Task Force (CVLTF) since 2011.  His work concentrated in helping those fellow veterans with service-related mental health issues. Duncan worked tirelessly with CVLTF to establish Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) throughout Northern California.  At his own expense, he traveled to work with officials in over 20 counties. He met with grassroots groups of veterans, treatment providers, and local county and court officials, attorneys and judges to help CVLTF move the number of VTC’s in California from four to thirty-three operational and serving California veterans at the time of his passing.

Duncan lived with the“Invisible Wounds of War,” and was an often sought expert and speaker for legislative committees and collaboratives of veteran service providers and veterans.  Recognized as Veteran of the Year by the 24th Assembly District in 2017, Duncan MacVicar was a tireless advocate for his fellow veterans. Because of his work with Veterans, a Canine Companion puppy is named Vicar.  

Duncan worked for two years to write the “Veterans/Military Resentencing Law”.  In 2018, AB 865 was passed with the sponsorship of State Assembly Member, Marc Levine. This bill requires courts to consider PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other service-induced mental health problems as mitigating factors in the sentencing of convictions that occurred prior to January , 2016. 

Following the passage of AB 865, Duncan searched for another veteran-related service project.  He became a key member of the Advisory Board of Veterans Healing Veterans From the Inside Out (VHV-FTIO).  This organization was founded in San Quentin prison by an incarcerated Marine veteran. It provides a structured narration therapy curriculum for incarcerated veterans for purposes of trauma recovery and suicide prevention.  

Duncan also worked tirelessly on a national level to promote diversion and alternative sentencing for veterans. Duncan’s advocacy work supported the efforts of the National Association of Drug court Professionals, the Justice Policy Institute, Swords to Plowshares and California Department of Veterans Affairs and Administrative Office of the Court.  His life was a testament to the ideals of “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Duncan is survived by Jeanne,  his wife of 49 years, their daughter, Bryn Pennington and husband, Chris, and two granddaughters, Chloe and Harper of Lafayette, Colorado. He is also survived by brother, Bob MacVicar (Jane) and nephew, Duncan, (Jenna) of New York and a loving extended family.   He will be dearly missed by his family, friends and countless organizations and people he served throughout his lifetime.

 A memorial service is pending due to the virus.

Share Your Memory of
T. Duncan