Dr. Jean Renwick Duncan was born on the 16th of September, 1895 in Chatham. She was the daughter of Dr. James Henry Duncan and the former Margaret “Maggie” Helen Ferguson. Her father was a well-respected family physician who had practiced medicine in Chatham-Kent since 1881. Dr. Jean Duncan was the youngest of 3 children. Her two brothers, Ferguson James Duncan (1890-1907) and Edward Ross Duncan (1892-1911) both died when they were young. Dr. Duncan received her primary education in Chatham.
Dr. Duncan went on to study at The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. She graduated M.B. in 1925 and B.Sc. (Med) and L.M.C.C. in 1926. According to the 1928 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Duncan joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 31st of August, 1926.
Dr. Duncan returned to her hometown of Chatham to practice medicine. According to the 1929 Vernon City of Chatham Business Directory, her medical office was located at 10 Third Street. Her medical office was located at 61 King Street West according to the 1934-1935 Vernon’s City of Chatham Business Directory.
Her mother’s sister Sarah Ferguson married Andrew Moir Dow on the 5th of May, 1910 in Thamesville. They immigrated to Los Angeles, California in 1919. Mr. Dow was a pharmacist. According to the 1930 census Dr. Duncan’s future husband Geoffrey Morris Purcell was a boarder with Andrew and Sarah Dow at 1351 North Spaulding Ave., in Los Angeles.
Dr. Duncan married Geoffrey Morris Purcell on the 1st of June, 1935 in Maricopa, Arizona. At the time of their marriage, they both lived in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Purcell was born in New York on the 14th of September, 1872, the eldest of 7 children born to John “Gervaise” Purcell and the former Helen Augusta Pope. Besides New York, Mr. Purcell’s family lived in Connecticut and Los Angeles. His father was a civil engineer and his siblings were; Nora, Hugh, Samuel, Ruth, Thomas and Harold. Mr. Purcell was previously married to Martha Williams Hutchinson in 1896. They had 3 sons; Howard, Gervaise (who died at the age of 6) and Ganson. Mr. and Mrs. Purcell divorced in 1918.
According to the 1938 Santa Monica, California City Directory, Dr. and Mr. Purcell resided at 315 18th Street. Mr. Purcell was an insurance agent.
Mr. Purcell died in San Bernadino, California on the 14th of May, 1960. Dr. Duncan-Purcell died in San Bernadino on the 15th of February, 1961.
*Mr. Purcell served with the United States Army during World War I. His sister Ruth became a physician and practiced medicine in California.
**Her father, Dr. James Henry Duncan is also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.