Duncan Hunter Doolittle, 97, a former resident of StoneRidge in Mystic, Connecticut, died Sunday, December 24, 2017, at Avalon Health Center. He was the husband of the late Nancy Ann (Parsons) Doolittle.
Born in Providence, Duncan was the son of the late Lytton Warnick and Mary Lippitt (Hunter) Doolittle. He was raised in Providence, where he attended the Gordon School. The family spent summers in York Harbor, Maine, and from 1933-1935 his days were full at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, Maine. He graduated from the Providence Country Day School in 1939.
Following high school, he attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and was active in numerous societies, committees and debates. He supported his way through college by working in the library and as a tutor in the summer. He graduated in 1943, with an A.B. in modern European history and government.
Duncan was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. He served with 103d Field Artillery Battalion of the 43d Infantry Division as a liaison pilot and aerial reconnaissance. He was in New Guinea and in the initial landings on Luzon in the Philippines and the initial occupation of Japan. He was discharged as captain. In later years, Duncan wrote “Barker’s Clubs: Piper Cub Planes & Their Pilots in the 43rd Division Artillery, 1944-1945,” reflecting upon his time in WWII.
He began his career with Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co. in 1946. Working his way up the ladder, in 1967 he became the general manager for the company's Machine Tool Division, retiring as senior vice-president in 1979. He continued to work for several more years as president of Rhode Island Energy Corp. and was co-owner of the Yankee Travel Agency in Wakefield up until his final retirement in 1983.
During his years spent in Rhode Island, Duncan was active in town politics, serving on the South Kingstown Town Council from 1975-1981 and as its president from 1979-1981. In 1982, he became a candidate for Rhode Island lieutenant governor, and in 1986 was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention of Rhode Island.
He belonged to the Newport Reading Room, the Clambake Club and the Hope Club, and was a member of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of the Colonial Wars and the American Legion. He founded the South Kingstown Land Trust and was its president from 1979-1981.
Duncan was an avid fly fisherman, visiting the rivers of North America to catch salmon and trout. He loved gardening and sharing his harvest. As a self-described “gentleman farmer,” he also kept chickens, sheep and a few cows. He was a lifelong scholar of history and politics and each morning was spent perusing a stack of newspapers from beginning to end, and then again.
He and Nancy loved Italy. They took Italian lessons, made frequent trips to Italy and stayed weeks at a time perfecting his recipe for zuppa de peche. In his later years, he derived great satisfaction tending his orchid collection.
Most of all, Duncan was passionate about his family history and making sure his children “got it.” Rarely a day went by when someone from long ago wasn’t mentioned. In fact, he wrote a book about his great uncle, “A Soldier’s Hero – General Sir Archibald Hunter.”
Duncan was predeceased by his first wife and mother of his children, Anne Watson (Lewis) Baker of Westport, Massachusetts, and his second wife, Clare Amy (Southerland) Bailey of Wakefield.
He is survived by his five children, William Shearman Doolittle (Misa Joo) of Eugene, Oregon, Harriet Sprague (Doolittle) Vaughan (Wheaton C.) of Englewood, Florida, and Wakefield, Abby Lippitt Doolittle of Burlington, Connecticut, Elisha Watson Doolittle of Wakefield and Nicole Grahame (Doolittle) Nomer (Jonathan H.) of Englewood, Florida, and Wakefield; his grandchildren, Josina Manu of Minneapolis, Minnesota, N. Rebecca (Rosch) Adams of San Jose, California, Alana Rosch of Warwick, Jenna Clare Doolittle of Los Angeles, California, Jessie Anne (Nomer) Northup (Ian) of Englewood, Florida, Maki Maryanne Doolittle of Eugene, Oregon, and Alexander Duncan Hazard Nomer (Nicoletta M.) of Delray Beach, Florida; and two great-grandchildren, Andrew Duncan Adams and Matthew Michael Adams, both of San Jose, California.
He is survived by his sister, Esther Warnick (Doolittle) Ames of Easton and Boston, Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his siblings, Mary Isabel (Doolittle) Wall of Jamestown, Abby Ann Lippitt (Doolittle) Ross of Ligonier, Pennsylvania and S.Sgt. William Shearman Doolittle of Providence.
A service will be held Friday, January 12, 2018, at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Narragansett. Burial will follow at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence at noon. There are no calling hours.
In keeping with his passion for reading, donations in his memory may be made to the library at The Gordon School, Providence.