October 17, 2016 | The Editors

Honoring decades of compassion and friendships

Stories from friends and early employees tell the rich and wonderful life of PATH’s recently deceased cofounder, Gordon Duncan, PhD.
PATH’s three cofounders at a rocky stream.
“It’s been a wonderful career. I’m fortunate I met wonderful people. I still keep in touch with them.”—late PATH cofounder and global health leader, Gordon Duncan, PhD. A 1975 photo of PATH cofounders Gordon Duncan (right), Gordon Perkin (lower left), and Rich Mahoney (upper left). Photo: PATH.

In a 2015 interview, Gordon Duncan described his early role as cofounder and first executive director at PATH as the result of a series of lucky events.

There was the phone call from a buddy in the mid ‘70s who convinced him to accept a job in Seattle, sight unseen (“He made it sound very attractive.”). The collaborative friendships with Rich Mahoney and Gordon Perkin, two bright young men who also cared deeply about improving women’s access to family planning options around the world. And the first employees who left thriving careers to join a fledgling organization called PIACT (Program for the Introduction and Adaptation of Contraceptive Technology).

Shortly after he passed away on October 7, stories from Duncan’s friends and colleagues started flowing in. They remembered a man whose work ethic, knowledge, and compassion ran deep. Indeed, as the following statements prove, we were the lucky ones to have been part of Duncan’s life.

Rich Mahoney, PATH cofounder:

Gordon Duncan during a 2015 interview on the importance of PATH’s founding principles and fostering a culture of trust. Video: PATH.

Gordon Perkin, PATH cofounder:

Gordon Duncan on developing family planning technologies for the betterment of the health and well-being of women. Video: PATH.

Peggy Morrow, PATH’s first full-time employee and China program lead:

Michael Free, senior advisor emeritus at PATH:

Vivien Tsu, associate director in the Reproductive Health Program and the director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program at PATH:

Dr. Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (formerly PATH CEO and president):

Eric Walker, formerly chief financial officer at PATH:

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