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‘God had a purpose for us,’ said Oklahoma church member who survived two tornadoes


Avis Duncan, with the squirrel. (Photo provided by Duncan family)

Blogging from Woodward, Okla.
More than a decade ago, while serving as religion editor for The Oklahoman, I was blessed to hear — and tell in print — the incredible life story of Avis Duncan, mother of my friend David Duncan.
“God had a purpose for us,” Avis Duncan said as she reflected on surviving two of the deadliest tornadoes ever to hit the nation’s heartland.
The Christian Chronicle reprinted my column on Avis Duncan in its January 2002 print edition. The opening of the story:

WOODWARD, OKLA. – Her voice choked with emotion, Avis Duncan shut her eyes tightly, trying to keep a storm of tears from raging.
The Fifth Street Church of Christ member was talking about the green ceramic squirrel that lives on her living-room table.
A smile on its face, the squirrel stands not 3 inches tall.
It cost only a quarter.
Yet, it tells the story of this 72-year-old Woodward native’s life.
“It’s OK if you cry,” said her son, David, 33. He joked, “It’ll make it a better story.”
The dime-store trinket, bought in Enid in August 1946 as Raymond and Avis Duncan celebrated their honeymoon, conjures so many memories. So many laughs. So many tears.

This week, I joined David Duncan, now pulpit minister for the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, and his family in celebrating the life of Avis Duncan, who died Sunday, July 8, at age 83. She has, as David described it Sunday night, moved on to “bigger and better things.” (Read her full obituary.)
If you click the link and read the entire story of Avis Duncan’s life, you’ll understand the significance of that 3-inch squirrel. Her family buried it with her as they bid farewell to her earthly remains.

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