On December 20, 2012, the foxhunting community lost one of its most dedicated representatives, Fred Duncan. He spent most of his adult life in hunt service, working at the Warrenton hunt for thirteen years and at the Middleburg Hunt for twenty years.
Starting in hunt service at Warrenton in 1966, Fred whipped in to the famous huntsman and his mentor, Dick Bywaters. Fred always credited his extensive knowledge of American foxhound conformation and bloodlines to Bywaters. After Bywaters retired, Fred took over the pack and hunted the hounds for six seasons.
During the brief periods when Fred was not in professional hunt service, he worked with race horses (flat and steeplechase), show horses, quarter horses and field hunters. In the early 1960’s when he worked for author Jane McClary as stable foreman of her hunter barn, he even schooled her horses side saddle.
Fred spent from 1992 to 2011 working as kennelman for the Middleburg Hunt. For the twenty years Fred was an integral part of the Middleburg Hunt. He served with five different huntsmen. He filled in when necessary as barn manager, whipper-in, huntsman and field master. Fred was from the ‘old school’ and knew about tradition, turn out, etiquette, and had a great understanding of the American Foxhound. Not only was foxhunting Fred’s occupation it was his life and passion. When it came to horses and hounds, Fred could do it all.
Throughout his life, he shared his love of the sport with his wife of fifty-seven years, Doris. She was always involved in Fred’s career, visiting the kennels frequently and expressing her own opinion as to which hounds were the best. Doris passed away in December of 2011, a year before Fred.
Always polite and mannerly, Fred had a certain presence and elegance about him. No one appeared to be more at home at a formal hunt function or on the back of a horse than Fred Duncan.
Fred retired at age 80 just a few months before his fatal car accident. It seems a shame that he only had a short time to enjoy hunt meets in his new, relaxed status as a knowledgeable enthusiast. His constant presence in Virginia’s foxhunting world will be missed for many years to come.
A memorial service was held in the town of Middleburg with a large number of the local hunting population in attendance. Fred’s children and the Middleburg Hunt hosted the reception that followed. Noted author Rita Mae Brown delivered the eulogy. Huntsmen from four Virginia hunts attended in livery.
Fred is survived by his four children: daughter, Joanie, and sons, Barry, Phil and Art.