Thursday, January 16, 2003

Some Good News

Her prayers especially effective


It is 10 p.m. and Lueree Duncan is getting ready to say her nightly prayer.

The telephone rings. The person on the line wants Mrs. Duncan to pray for her.

"It happens all the time," Mrs. Duncan said. "I guess I am a prayer counselor. Most of the time when people call me about their problems, I really don't know what to do. I tell the Lord I don't know what I am doing, but then I pray and the problem gets solved. I am as surprised as they are."

Today, this self-made prayer counselor turns 100 years old - but it's hard to tell she's 100 by looking at her or talking to her.

She has very little gray hair. Her nerves are steady and she can spit out names, addresses, dates in a continuous monologue while gesturing with her hands to help make a point.

Mrs. Duncan was born in Meridian, a little southern town in east Mississippi she said was much cleaner than Cincinnati when she came here at age 13.

"I was shocked and surprised at Cincinnati," she said. "People threw stuff everywhere, cans, paper, trash, everything. I wasn't use to that kind of behavior in Meridian."

Mrs. Duncan

But she came to love Cincinnati, the place where she remembers her mother buying a house for $400 in the 1930s.

Mrs. Duncan worked in the nursing dining room at the old General Hospital, now University Hospital.

Her longevity, and the prayers that get answered, are mysteries to her. She said she doesn't have a special secret for living or praying.

"I just keep praying and keep living," she said. She has prayer partners in Cincinnati and across the country. When people call them with problems, they just pray, she said.

Her praying and caring for people became a lifestyle. She went back to school at age 80 and took courses in home health care. After working as a home health care provider for several years, she became a private duty nurse at age 91 and cared for Laura Rosnagle, former dean of nursing at UC Hospital.

"I had known her from when I worked in the dining room. When she was sick in the hospital, they would not let her go home unless she had someone there to care for her. I decided to care for her," Mrs. Duncan said.

After Mrs. Rosnagle died, Mrs. Duncan, in her mid-90s, became a baby sitter for her eight grandchildren. "They weren't a problem for me," she said.

On Saturday, Mrs. Duncan, who has spent almost a century caring about people, will be treated to a "This is Your Life" celebration by her two remaining children, grandchildren and friends.

The celebration will be from 3 to 6 p.m. in the recreation room at Booth Residence.

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