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Houston Billionaire-Philanthropist Dan Duncan Dies

Dan Duncan — long known as Houston’s wealthiest man — died Sunday night at his River Oaks home of unknown causes. The natural gas pipeline billionaire was one of the city’s most active philanthropists who concentrated much of his focus on the Texas Medical Center. Laurie Johnson has more.

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Dan Duncan, who was 77 years old, was listed by Forbes Magazine as Houston’s wealthiest person and the third richest in Texas, with a net worth of $6.3 billion.

A spokesman for his company, Enterprise Products Partners, characterized his death as unexpected.

Duncan gave millions of dollars to institutions in the Texas Medical Center, including Texas Children’s Hospital, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and UT’s Health Science Center. One of the most recent gifts was a $100 million donation to create the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Kent Osborne is the center’s director.

“Like many families in our country, he was affected by cancer, both personally with loved ones and himself. So he always thought that cancer was a terrible disease and that he wanted to try and do something that, whatever it was, to help patients in the future not have to suffer from cancer. And that was a major — not the only — but a major component to his philanthropy.”

Duncan lost his second wife to ovarian cancer and was himself a prostate cancer survivor.

Osborne says there was one thing Duncan said to him that he’ll never forget.

“I asked him what was the secret to his success. This was the very first time I met him — he made you feel comfortable the very first time you meet him. His answer was that it was humility among your coworkers, and listen to that they say and always treat them as an equal. And I think those are words of wisdom that everyone should live by and I’ll never forget my initial discussion with him. He’ll really be missed.”

Duncan is survived by his wife Jan, four children and four grandchildren.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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