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Noreen Alice Duncan 1926 - 2024
Noreen Alice Duncan

Noreen Alice Duncan, 97, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Kansas City with her daughter Ann at her side. Noreen was born Feb. 25, 1926 in Hays, Kan., the daughter of Herman J. Dreiling and Clara Dreiling (Brungardt). She was the eldest of three siblings.

Noreen spent her youth in Hays surrounded by the music, food and the pioneering spirit of the local Volga German community. Noreen was a gifted pianist and performed in numerous recitals and maintained a regular schedule as an organist for the Catholic Church. She especially enjoyed the classics: Chopin, Beethoven and Vivaldi.

Noreen relocated to Long Beach, Calif. in 1944 but was called back to Hays due to family obligations. She attended Fort Hays State where she met her future husband, James Edward Duncan. They were married in Hays on Jan. 27, 1951. The couple lived in Salina, Kan. for a short time before moving to Great Bend, Kan. where they resided until 2014.

Noreen was a homemaker and good friend to all of her neighbors and St. Patrick’s church family. She was an organist at the church and active in the Altar Society and Daughters of Isabella. James and Noreen supported their children’s activities in youth sports, Boy Scouts Troop 151, Girl Scouts, Winter Color Guard, and Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps. Noreen additionally worked at Barton County Abstract & Title, the medical offices of Dr. David Shivel and in the lawn and garden department at Walmart. Upon retirement, James and Noreen were regulars at the Great Bend Senior Center.

Great Bend and the little house on Taft Street became the headquarters for many family reunions, Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebrations, and especially “Good Old Fashioned” 4th of July extravaganzas. Memories from these events will forever live in the hearts of their children and grandchildren. James and Noreen moved to Lenexa, Kan. in 2014 to be near their children. Between 2014 and 2020, Noreen heroically  served as the primary caregiver to James as he struggled with Alzheimer’s disease.

Noreen was preceded in death by her husband James; parents Herman and Clara Dreilin; and brother Wilbert Dreiling. Survivors include her sister, Ellen Beechwood of Leawood, Kan.; sons John Duncan and wife Lynn of Olathe, Kan., Timothy Duncan and wife Tristan of Mission Hills, Kan., Michael Duncan of Liberty, Mo.; daughter Ann Kempenar and husband John of Overland Park, Kan.; eight grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren. 

All who knew her will miss her faith, sweet smile and beautiful blue eyes. Noreen was only three days short of her 98th birthday which we would have celebrated on Sunday, Feb. 25th.

Services will be Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kan. A Rosary will be prayed at 10 a.m.; Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be at Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements provided by

12301 State Line Rd.

Kansas City, Mo. 64145

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, March 2, 2024