John LeRoy Duncan was born 16 July 1894 in Cheyney, Kansas to McFarland and Ada Belle Gregory Duncan. He was a healthy, good looking child with a very inquisitive nature. He wanted to find out for himself the do's and don'ts of life.
John (from here on known as "Jack") joined the Navy when he was fourteen (14) years of age. He needed his parents consent, so he coaxed his father until he signed the papers; and Jack was on his way to San Francisco for induction. He was out of the Navy and had begun his life's work as a cook at age eighteen (18).
Elizabeth "Bessie" Duke met John LeRoy Duncan in Helena, Montana where they worked together in a prominent hotel. "Jack" worked there for a few weeks, and then, out of the clear blue, he announced that he and another fellow were going to go to Chicago and get in on the big money that was being paid to good cooks. Elizabeth stayed on in Helena for two or three more weeks then decided that San Francisco would be her next home. She took the long train ride to San Francisco and the Golden Gate.
Jack couldn't get that "little, black haired beauty" that he met in Helena out of his mind, so after a month or two, he packed up and went back to Helena; only to find that "Bessie" had left and gone to San Francisco. Jack worked in Helena for a short while, and as the war in Europe developed, it was most certain that our country would be involved soon. He enlisted while in Helena in the Quartermaster corps, and within days had notice that he would be sent to the presidio in San Francisco and on 10 September, 1917 he was given his orders to report there.
However, as luck would have it, the two met again in San Francisco and were married on 10 October 1917, just one week prior to his departure for France with the Armed Forces of the U.S. Army.
On 30 June 1921, John L Duncan was born to the couple and on 2 November 1922 Elizabeth Jane "Betty" Duncan was born, both in Fresno, California. Both were born in the same hospital with the same doctor attending the births.
Sometime in the year 1925, Jack and Bessie separated for good and eventually divorced.
The Story now turns to war time. Jack was a very patriotic guy. He wanted to be in the war effort of WWII. He was to old to enlist in the Navy or Army, so he signed up with the Merchant Marines, and sailed out as a chief cook aboard a victory class of merchant ship. The next ship he got was a liberty class ship, named the "George Ross". His son, John had married Arba and had recieved notice that Jack's ship had been sunk in the South Pacific but that all hands were safe, and had been taken to Austrilia.
John and Arba got on a bus and went to San Francisco to enlist in the merchant marines. During the time Jack was finding his way back to the states, John shipped out on a "two week trip," to Honolulu, Hawaii. Two week trips during war time, can be anything from four weeks to a year or more. This time it was six weeks. After spending two or three weeks at home, Jack had arrived back and they were ready to ship out together.
Jack and John were able to serve together in the Merchant Marines. Jack as Chief Cook and John as a cook. They were able to spend some time together then to get to know each other better.
Jack loved his grandchildren and loved to show them off to others.