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Cal Bollwinkel

Charlie Duncan



Memories of the Fab Four, by Joyce Krieg

Charlie was part of what I refer to as VBL’s Fab Four, our four founding members. The seeds were planted in July of 2000, when my pal from our KSFM-Earth Radio days, Maxine Carlin, discovered a box of KFBK transcription disks from the 1950s in a garage sale in the foothills. She immediately recognized their potential value and snatched them up. I suggested she contact Charlie Duncan at the Center for Sacramento History to see if they would be interested in adding them to the McClatchy archives. Of course, they were.

I was friends with another long-time McClatchy newsman, Harry Warren, and just knew the four of us—Charlie, Maxine, Harry and me—had to get together at some point. It took some eight months or so to mesh everyone’s schedule, but we finally managed to gather for lunch at the old Lyon’s restaurant on Howe Avenue in the spring of 2001. At some point, the conversation turned to the Broadcast Legends group in San Francisco. Then someone said the fateful words: “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a group like that in Sacramento?”

We lost ‘Ol Har’ in 2009. Maxine fortunately is alive and well, but has moved to Mendocino and no longer is a member. And now with Charlie’s passing, that leaves just me as the “last one standing” from the original Fab Four—an unsettling feeling for sure!



Channeling Charlie, by Ron Middlekauff

Early on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 17, I woke up from a sound sleep with a very strange sensation. Something didn’t feel right early on this winter day.

I last saw Charlie Duncan on Saturday the 14th, his first day of hospice care in a Carmichael assisted living facility. I was with his daughter Terry, wife Shirley and a granddaughter. Also present was our pastor, Jack McNary of Northminster Presbyterian Church. Charlie and Shirley had been founding members over 61 years ago. I had been told by Jack that I should race over when I could. We spent just under two hours together. I found a man at peace. He was asleep. No pain. He’d have been 87 in May.

I first met Charlie in December 1968 when somehow I was drawn to be a “kiddie” on his KOVR-TV show Cap’n Delta, which ran 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, long before Good Morning America existed. It was two hours of chat and games, and lots of cartoons. I won two cases of Pepsi-Cola. Great memory. After the show taped (remember, I was seven) he gave me a private backstage tour of the facility: control room, cameras, bright lights, everything. The die was cast. I knew I wanted to do TV.

I was the AV guy all through elementary, junior and senior high schools. Then 30 years at a great career at KCRA. I often joked with Charlie that I didn’t know whether I was happy or angry that I followed his path in TV.

Fast forward 40 years or so. By pure coincidence, I was introduced to my soon-to-be new church. After the first service, I recognized my pal! It was like we never missed a moment in time together. Then I find out he was a founding member of our own Valley Broadcast Legends group. Fate was there. I believe God puts you in certain places in time to learn from someone else. That was me and Charlie.

He spent 42 glorious years, as he’d say, working for the McClatchy organization in various departments. He was Cap’n Delta for about five years. Eventually, Eleanor McClatchy wanted him to run the McClatchy history archives, which he did until retirement. He raised a wonderful family with three kids, Craig, Tim and Terry. Now, several grandchildren later, they too knew a great man. As I left Charlie for the last time on that Saturday afternoon, I looked down at him, rubbed his shoulders and told him I loved him. Now we’re both at peace.

last edited 22 May 2020