I miss him greatly, but thankfully, most of my mourning has passed, and my heart has moved on to celebration.
I attempted that transition mere months after he passed when I wrote the book, “I am my father’s son”. There I wrote this small tribute to him entitled, “I am my father’s stage name”. I hope you enjoy it…
Somewhere in the mid to late 60’s, my father packed up the family (I was not born yet) and moved to California. Reportedly, Dad did this for two reasons: my mother’s asthma would improve on the West Coast and Dad wanted to be an actor.
Hearing these stories and looking at the pudgy, balding man who told them, I always scratched my head.
Actor? Are you kidding me?
But he gave it a shot. Though he doesn’t have an IMDB profile, he did some modeling (???) and had a few gigs. But one of the things his agent told him was that he had to change his name.
Thomas Duncan was taken. Thom Duncan was taken.
For a while, he went by the name Duke Duncan as we had an uncle who played pro baseball by that name, but his agent said that Duke was John Wayne, and dad couldn’t use it.
So, my father became Gordon Duncan for a period of time.
Legend has it, my parents were at a swanky dinner party one night, and over the course of the evening, Mom called him “Thom”, “Duke”, and “Gordon”. She couldn’t keep up.
At this point in the storytelling, Mom would always say that she was sure that everyone at the party thought she was some floozy that Dad picked up because she didn’t know his name.
Dad always smiled at this and kept telling stories.
Well, the acting career didn’t work out, and the Duncan crew moved back across America. A few years later, I was born. They named me Gordon.
I am my father’s stage name.
I’ve always thought of it as something pretty cool, but somewhere in my twenties, I realized that my naming was something that I needed to live up to and not just be nostalgic about.
Honoring my father meant honoring the name he gave me. It meant joyfully living out some of his dreams. Now, my father never pressured me into any job or endeavor.
Never. I mean it.
He didn’t place on me the “Be a pastor like me” or “Be a musician like me” or any of that. I was free to be who I wanted which is pretty rare these days.
But as I matured, and I saw God draw similar lines in my life like He drew in my father’s, I gladly walked in paths that my father frontiered.
I am happily my Father’s stage name.
I ask God to enable me to honor both my heavenly Father and my earthly father in the doing…
Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. If you would like to hear more about Sam, as I called him, I recently recorded an episode of my podcast about him, and as always, you pick up a copy of “I am my father’s son” on Amazon.
If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at