Obituary for Dr. Susan Ellen (Dunn) Duncan, Ph.D.

duncan susan dunnDr. Susan Ellen (Dunn) Duncan, Ph.D., of Hiwassee passed away Wednesday, October 12, 2022, at her home. Born in Mansfield, Ohio she was the daughter of Robert Dunn & Jean Mallarnee Dunn.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Robert Duncan, Jr. and her sister-in-law, Jan Duncan Bourke. She is survived by her daughter Taylor Duncan (Nick) Alley of Blacksburg, VA. She is also survived by her parents Robert and Jean Dunn of Henderson, NC, sister Barbara (Tim) Wiggins of Youngsville, NC, brother David (Christine) Dunn of Richmond, TX, father- and mother-in-law Robert Duncan, Sr. and Georgianne Stivanson Duncan of Georgetown, TX, sister- and brother-in-law Diane Duncan (Ron) Mattox of Westerville, OH, brother-in-law Mike Bourke of Columbus, OH, and numerous nieces and nephews.

As a loving mother, sister, daughter, and friend, Sue’s love of serving others was readily apparent throughout her life. She was heavily involved at her church, Dublin Baptist Church, where she served on numerous committees, singing in the choir and, her favorite, as Sunday School leader. Her love of Christ led her to appreciate many aspects of creation and a desire to share those with others. Visiting America’s National Parks with her daughter, sister, and extended family was a constant source of joy for her. Often called the “Bead, Read, and Feed” tours, vacations centered around viewing God’s creation across the country, enjoying time with family, and eating good food. Gardening was a favorite pastime during the spring and summer, enjoying the warm weather in the company of her dog, Noah, and cat, Berlioz, and she consistently shared the fruits of her labors (mainly basil) with her friends and family.

Sue was a well-respected leader, professor, and researcher in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for more than 32 years. After finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, she started her career at Virginia Tech in 1990 when she was the first woman hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. After her promotion to the rank of professor, she was named the associate director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. She also served as the director of the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture with her trademark enthusiasm, drive, and intellect. During her time as a graduate advisor, she became affectionately known as “The Dairy Queen” among her students, countless of whom she shepherded through their academic careers. Her intense focus coupled with her warm, supportive mentoring style made a permanent impression upon them.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, October 25th at 11am at the Dublin Baptist Church with Rev. Allen Mahan officiating. The family will receive friends Monday, October 24th from 6 to 8pm at the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the National Park Foundation ( or the Bob Duncan Memorial Scholarship by sending checks made out to the Virginia Tech Foundation and identifying the contribution in support of the Bob Duncan Memorial Diagnostic Veterinary Pathology Scholarship Fund. Checks can be mailed to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Advancement Office, 225 Duck Pond Drive, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061.

To sign Susan’s online guestbook, visit Bower Funeral Homes, Pulaski is handling the arrangements for the family.