Former Iowa QB Randy Duncan dies at 79

Kirk Ferentz said Duncan was true 'legend'

Randy Duncan is honored during the Kinnick Stadium Wall of Honor ceremony before a game between Iowa and Northern Illinois in 2013. Duncan died Tuesday at 79. (The Gazette)
Randy Duncan is honored during the Kinnick Stadium Wall of Honor ceremony before a game between Iowa and Northern Illinois in 2013. Duncan died Tuesday at 79. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa All-American quarterback Randy Duncan died Tuesday evening in Des Moines, following a lengthy battle with cancer.

He was 79.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

“The word ‘legend’ is so often overused in sports, but in the case of Randy Duncan it fits perfectly,” Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said in a release. “He was one of the true Hawkeye legends, who served as an outstanding representative of Iowa football and the University of Iowa. A great family man, Randy was humble and caring, and lived life to the fullest. He was passionate and dedicated to his work and a great friend of Iowa football.

“Randy was a true hero to those who knew him due to his selflessness and dedication to his family and profession.”

A native of Osage, Duncan earned consensus All-America honors at Iowa while leading the Hawkeyes to the 1959 Rose Bowl. Iowa earned the Grantland Rice Award in 1958, symbolic of the national football championship at the time.

“We are all saddened to hear of the passing of Randy Duncan,” Gary Barta, UI director of athletics, said in a release. “Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Paula and the entire family. Randy was a Hawkeye icon because of his athletic accomplishments. But more importantly, a great husband, family man and community leader who fought a great battle over the last few years. I’m honored to have known him.”

Duncan was the first team all-Big Ten quarterback as a junior and senior, leading Iowa to a 15-2-2 record in his two years as the starting quarterback. He led the Big Ten in passing in 1958 and concluded his Hawkeye career by leading the Hawkeyes to a 38-12 win over California in the 1959 Rose Bowl Game.

Duncan earned the Walter Camp Trophy and was named college Player of the Year by three organizations. He was named Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference and later was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is a member of the UI Varsity Club Hall of Fame and one of nine former Hawkeyes to be recognized on the Kinnick Stadium Ring of Honor.


Duncan was the first player selected in the 1959 NFL Draft (Green Bay) before electing to begin his professional career in the Canadian Football League. He retired from professional football in 1961, returning to school to earn his law degree from Drake University. He practiced law in Des Moines throughout his career.

Duncan is survived by his wife, Paula, and sons Scott and Jed. He was preceded in death by his son Matt.



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