Duncan, Statistician Who Aided Japan's Recovery, Is Dead at 90 By Ken Keatley Acheson J. Duncan, professor emeritus of statistics at Johns Hopkins University and longtime Roland Park resident, died Saturday, Jan. 7, at Union Memorial Hospital after a long illness. He was 90. A week after his death, Helen Foster Duncan, his wife of 35 years and a former member of the Woman's Club of Johns Hopkins University, died at the age of 91. An authority in the field of industrial statistics and quality control, Dr. Duncan spent 13 years on the faculty at Princeton University and three in the U.S. Army before coming to Hopkins in 1946 as an associate professor of statistics in the School of Business. Later, he joined the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering's program in industrial engineering. He retired in 1971 as a professor of statistics. Throughout his career, Dr. Duncan wrote extensively on his research in the field, having co-authored two statistical texts. He was author of a third book, Quality Control and Industrial Statistics, first published in 1952, that has had five editions and also been printed in Indian and Japanese translations. Robert H. Roy, dean emeritus of the Hopkins School of Engineering, said Dr. Duncan and his work were revered in Japan, where he frequently lectured in the years following World War II. "A good deal of the credit for the post-war recovery of the Japanese economy was attributable in part to his work in statistical quality control," Dr. Roy said. "He was a distinguished scholar." Dr. Duncan was popular with students as well as staff at Hopkins, said Kay Lutz, graduate administrator in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, which includes the university's statistics program. "Every year at Christmas, right up until 1993, Dr. Duncan would bring a bottle of wine to each of us who worked in the office," Lutz said. "The word that best described him is gentleman." In 1986, an anonymous donor established the Acheson J. Duncan Distinguished Visitor Fund at Hopkins. The endowed fund supports an annual visit to the university and lecture by a scholar in mathematical sciences. Besides his work with the Japanese government, Dr. Duncan served as a consultant to numerous industries and governmental agencies, including the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, Glenn L. Martin Co. and Esso Standard Oil Co. A native of Leonia, N.J., he attended Princeton University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1925, a master's in 1927 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1936. He also attended the University of Chicago and Columbia University. Dr. Duncan is survived by a step-daughter, Catharine F. Black of Baltimore; a step-son, Joseph W. Foster of New Jersey; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A joint ecumenical service was held for Dr. and Mrs. Duncan on Jan. 20 at St. David's Episcopal Church in Baltimore. The family asks that memorial contributions be made to the donor's choice of charity.
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