Duncan Brown

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Duncan’s Story…

Duncan was born March 21, 1994 and was so beloved by everyone from the day he was born. He was always so kind, compassionate and caring; always interested in everything the world had to offer, so full of inventive ideas, so smart and ready to have new experiences.

As a baby, just a few months old, he loved going in his grandmother’s pool (with a hand under his belly). Later he played water polo. Growing up, Duncan went with his mother to museums where they were invited to go behind the scenes and study unusual acquisitions such as arthritic dinosaur bones. His parents took him to spaceship launches, rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and on an African safari. Not to mention more common trips such as touring in New Zealand, camping in Wyoming and skiing in Tahoe.

Duncan’s father taught him to fence and, following in his dad’s footsteps who was on the fencing team in college, Duncan fenced in high school. He was also on the debate team and brought home to Analy High School, a gold medal from a tournament featuring ten high schools. Another highlight for Duncan was having his film chosen to be shown in the Sonoma County Student Film Festival and the Marin County Larkspur Theater. Duncan’s real love was aviation. He soloed and got his pilot’s license at the age of 16. At the time of his death, he was scheduled to take his test for instrument and commercial rating, with a goal toward flying jets.

Duncan attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, made the deans list four times and earned a Bachelor of Arts in both Biology and Spanish. While there, he interned at NASA and one summer he received a grant to visit Chile for two weeks and do nothing but speak Spanish and absorb the culture. He happened to be standing outside the Chilean Navy Social Club and, of course, struck up a conversation. It turned out the Chilean Navy had received equipment from NASA and thus were very enamored with anything and everything to do with NASA. Duncan mentioned he interned with NASA and was immediately given a special invitation to attend a ceremony that evening where the only other foreigners were diplomats. (Oh, to find some decent shoes!) It was such a success he was invited to visit anytime he was in Chile, a rare honor.

Duncan interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab from September 2013 – May 2014 where he did corrosion testing on containment capsules destined for the Mars Sample Return mission. He analyzed spacecraft grade metals in an environment simulating Mars conditions. He also assisted the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group with the characterization of organisms and the generation of a long-term archive of microorganisms. NASA has stored approximately 4500 isolates dating from the Viking mission up to the present projects. He was very excited to be a small part in further exploring our surroundings and preserving the conditions of other environments for future scientific endeavors.

After graduating from Occidental College, Duncan took a temporary position with Miniwiz Co., Ltd in Taipei, Taiwan as an Aerospace/Materials Engineering Consultant. During his three months there, he formed a strong friendship with a Taiwanese couple and eventually returned for their wedding and ultimately became their child’s godparent. On returning to Sebastopol, California, he went to work for Persinger Architects while also earning a Masters degree in Architecture from the San Francisco Institute of Architecture. Most recently, Duncan was working for Wright Residential Construction in Santa Rosa, where he will be sadly missed.

A great talent with so much potential is gone; just a truly great human being.

Duncan loved life and life will never be the same.