Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles Courtship and Marriage

Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles Courtship and Marriage

Childhood of Norman

  • Fremont, Wayne County, Utah

2010 Family Reunion:

Norman Van Duncan was born in Fremont, Wayne, Utah on 28 April 1914, to Penn Taylor Duncan and mother née Minnie Ester Taylor.  His birthday was just a few months  before the start of World War I, the military conflict that centered on Europe and began in the summer of 1914.  Norman was descended from a line of LDS pioneer ancestors, including his great grandfather, Chapman Duncan.  There is a 487-page historical book that was published about the life of Chapman in 1991, with the title, “Ancestry and Descendants of Chapman Duncan.”  Norman comes from that family line.

Norman was Son of Penn Taylor Duncan, born 28 Jan 1892

Grandson of Chapman Taylor Duncan, born 26 Mar 1865

Great grandson of Chapman Duncan, born 01 Jul 1812 (Mormon Pioneer)

As a young man, Norman was deeply involved in farm life with animals.  His brother Clell Duncan stated that Norman was fearless of breaking wild horses, and that Norman could “break to ride” any horse within a few weeks -- even other horses that other people had given up on as hopelessly wild and untamable.

One of Norman’s farm duties was helping in the family ranch business of raising sheep, or “sheep herding.”  Norman told many stories about keeping the sheep in the southern Utah desert during the winter, and taking them to Thousand Lake Mountain for the summer range.  Many of those stories were about the family sheep dog, “Chuck.”  It seemed that Chuck was a mind-reading dog who could do whatever was needed to care for the sheep.  Sheep-herding-dog Chuck and Norman's younger brothers were company for him during the long summer months.  It was during this time of tending sheep that Norman became sick with tularemia, or “rabbit fever.”

As a teen in high school, Norman enjoyed playing basketball, and was a member of the Wayne High School team when it won its first Utah State basketball championship.  He was also active in his LDS Church youth educational program (Seminary), to receive his certificate of graduation on 29 Apr 1933.  (See photo)

Later, after high school graduation, Norman went on to further education, to become a member of the charter class of Carbon Junior College, now known as the College of Eastern Utah.

Childhood of Flora

  • Fremont, Wayne County, Utah

Flora Annie Miles was born in Magna, Salt Lake, Utah in 1923, the daughter of Henry Lee Miles and Mary Morris.  Shortly after Flora’s birth, the family moved to Tooele, Utah to live in a home that they had just purchased on Main Street.  During her youth, Flora enjoyed playing in the yard, picking green apples to eat with salt, and caring for her two younger brothers, George Lee and Morris, and her two younger sisters, Mary Ruth and Joyce.

When Flora was 12 years old, she was chosen as “Queen of the May,” a traditional award given to a healthy young girl in grade 6.  (See photo)  In the picture of her, she is adorned with her attendants in a beautiful white princess gown.

Flora attended Tooele High School, where she excelled in academics.  She won several scholarship awards, including a grant to attend Utah State University.  In her senior year in 1942, World War II had begun and there was a need for typists at the military base at Hill Field in Ogden, Utah.  To help her pass the civil service exam at Hill Field, her father Henry borrowed a typewriter, enabling her to qualify for the assignment and begin work two months before her high school graduation.

Flora’s mother Mary was famous for her fruit canning preserves and vegetable canning at the local Utah State Fair exhibitions, with pictures and newspaper articles published describing her and showing pictures of all her state fair prize ribbons.  Flora participated in the state fair competitions also, and was active in 4H, winning prizes for her flower display arrangements and canned goods.

US Army Service, World War II in the South Pacific

  • New Guinea, South Pacific Islands

During World War II, Norman was drafted into the US Army.  He served from 1941 to 1945 in the Pacific Theater, namely in New Guinea, where he achieved the discharge rank of Staff Sergeant.  While Norman was in the service, both state-side and overseas, he sent all of his pay to his mother to help support the family.  In order to earn money for his own use, he cut hair, and he made jewelry from foreign coins.  In this way, he was able to save a good portion of money.

While in the South Pacific battlefield of New Guinea, Norman contracted malaria and diphtheria.  The malaria fever helped provide a cure from the side effects of the diphtheria.

Upon arriving home, he helped his father get started in the Watkins Family business.

There are a number of pictures of Norman during these five years when he was forced to stand up and be a leader in the worst imaginable conditions of conflict and sickness. (See photos)

Meeting Future Wife during Religious Missionary Service

  • State of Arkansas

At the age of 32, Norman took the money he saved during the war, and served an LDS religious mission (Latter Day Saint, or Mormon Church) in the Central States Mission from January 1946 to 1948.  He served as District President of the Arkansas Districts.  Since the Mormon Missionaries had not been out in great numbers during the war, he spent most of the time traveling around the state baptizing children.

Another significant event occurred while Norman was on his mission.  He met Sister Flora Annie Miles, also a missionary at the time.  They fell in love, and the mission joke was that Elder Duncan traveled for Miles, and Miles.  Sister Miles is mentioned numerous times in Norman’s missionary diary.  And there are photos of him with the lady missionaries also.  (See photos)

Temple Wedding

  • Salt Lake City, Utah

Norman waited for Sister Flora Miles to complete her mission.  Then, on his birthday on 28 April 1948, Norman married Flora in the Salt Lake Temple.  (See photos and newspaper clipping).  Flora was 9 and a half years Norman’s junior, and about 5 inches shorter than his towering 6-foot height.

Norman Gasoline Tanker-Truck Accident

  • Green River, Utah

After living in and around Green River, Utah with his new wife Flora, Norman found a job driving truck.  Norman and his Army buddy, Harry Smith, drove gasoline tankers from Salt Lake City to Moab, Monticello, and Blanding.  Wellington was the halfway point.  Harry drove the upper route north, and Norman the lower route south.  During the course of his truck driving job, his employer asked him to move to Wellington, Utah, which was the halfway point in the gas tanker-truck route.

However, during a rainstorm in June 1949, Norman had an accident in his tanker truck.  A vehicle was on the wrong side of the road, and he swerved the truck desperately to the side of the road in order to miss the wrong-side driver.  The truck jackknifed, and the cab was crushed (see photo).  Norman was preserved from death, but the doctor told him not to work for a year.

Flora Tells about Husband Norman’s Truck Accident

  • Green River, Utah

Norman’s wife Flora tells this story about the truck accident, as one of life’s “Little Experiences.”  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart...and He shall direct thy path.  Flora’s following story was published in the Suncrest Ward Newsletter, January 2005

When I was first married, my husband, Norman, and I went to live in Grand County in a house with no utilities on a plot of land located on the Green River about thirteen miles from Green River, Utah. After six months we had the opportunity to purchase a house in town with water and electricity -- moving up in the world.  The details of payment were interesting--five hundred down, one hundred a month for five months, and then the balance of one thousand dollars in a lump sum.  Imagine buying a house for that price.  Norman was working at the time driving gas truck with his friend from Salt Lake to Monticello. The employer had asked us to move to Wellington or Price because it was more like half way for the two men to share the driving. We were able to rent the house to help make the payments.

When it came time for the final payment, we didn’t have enough money because no bank would 1oan money on a house where there was no fire department.  Norman’s employer agreed to loan us what we needed to make the payment.

On the very day that Norman picked up the check, he was driving in a rain storm and swerved to miss a car in his lane, causing his truck to jack-knife and crash.  His injuries consisted of a bump on the head and a few scratches from broken glass.  He was told by the doctor not to work for a time.  What to do?  We were in Wellington.

Norman had been a charter student at Carbon College so he applied for the GI bill and became a student again.  He never drove truck again.  We moved to Provo after he finished in Price.  We were able to pay off the loan in eighteen months -- instead of eight.  All the time the house was rented.  And after the house was paid for, I was able to use the money to pay tuition at BYU.  In this way, we were both able to graduate from BYU.

The story continues.  Later, someone knocks on our door, wanting to know if we are interested in buying a house in Orem.  We were interested, and here we are in Orem now, even until today, more than 40 years later!  We were watched over and directed by the Lord, to be sure -- and have been blessed with a lovely family (See photo).

Higher Education for Both Norman and Flora

  • Orem, Utah

After Norman recuperated from the gasoline truck accident in 1949, wherein the Lord most mercifully spared his life, he used the GI Bill to continue his education.  He spent another year at Carbon College, and then he and Flora moved from Price, Utah to Provo, Utah, enrolling at Brigham Young University in 1950.  By the beginning of 1951, the couple had two young children, a girl Stephanie born in 1949, and a second girl Rebecca born in 1950.

In 1952, Norman completed the requirements for a teacher’s certificate and received his diploma from BYU.  After that, he continued his studies in graduate school.  Flora received her diploma from BYU two years later in 1954, with a major in German and a minor in mathematics.

During this time when both Norman and Flora were completing their education, from 1950 to Dec 1953, the family was living in BYU student housing.

Family Grows -- Work at Geneva Steel Mill -- New Home

  • Orem, Utah

Around the time that Norman was completing his degree work in 1952, he heard from a friend about job openings available at the Geneva Steel Mill.  And Norman and Flora had a need for increased income because of two small children to support, Stephanie Lois Duncan born in 1949, and Rebecca Duncan born in 1950.   Fortunately, Norman had enough chemistry courses to obtain a position at the production laboratory at the steel mill.  Later when the nitrogen plant at the steel mill opened, he transferred within the company and worked there for the rest of  his career.

The following 6 years after both Norman and Flora had graduated from BYU saw the birth of three more children, Ester Duncan born in 1956, Taylor Miles Duncan born in 1958, and Gaile Duncan, born in 1960.  During these six years, the growing family was living in Orem, Utah at Cristeel Acres, a division of tract homes that was subsequently declared an historical landmark by the City of Orem around the year 2000, 40 years later.  While living at Cristeel Acres, Norm learned of a house and plot of land available in Orem, an opportunity that brought great excitement to him and his family in 1961.

With this home available in 1961, Norman and Flora took their family of 5 children and moved to southwest Orem, Utah, where they purchased a house located on 5 and 1/2 acres of good farmland.  Norman now had a piece of land of his own to work with.  He raised five children, a number of steers, a milk cow, and chickens.  There were fruit trees on the land, to include about a dozen cherry trees.  There were grassy fields, and a nice place for a garden too.  It made Norman proud to sit down at the dinner table and realize that most of the food had been provided from his own land, and by his own family’s hard work.

Much later after Norm’s death, part of the farm plot was donated to the LDS Church.  On that plot of ground now stands (2001) the Lakeview Stake Center.  Norman envisioned the need for this type of building, and he expressed his desire to provide the land for such a building.

Norman’s Later Years

  • Orem, Utah

During the entire time while Flora was raising their family, Norman was busily involved in his service to the LDS Church in a variety of positions.  He was very committed to Gospel principles and a diligent worker in all his Church callings.

He was even a founding father for a Church bookstore while he was serving in the Seventy’s Presidency of the Sharon, Utah Stake.  He and three other bretheren from other stakes were instrumental in organizing and building the “Timp Missionary Bookstore” in the city of Orem, Utah.

Norman truly enjoyed being out of doors, with such activities as working on his plot of farmland, and providing food with hunting and fishing trips.  The family participated with him in these activities, with many memories of camping trips with their dad.

In a surprising incident without warning, on the day of 01 June 1974, Norman was called home to his Father-in-Heaven when he suffered a fatal heart attack in Bicknell, Wayne, Utah, just fifteen miles from his birthplace.  Norman’s earthly mission was complete.

Even though Norman was deceased in 1974, his wife Flora and all of his five children were still alive as of the year 2010.  Here are the names of the five children of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles:

(1) Stephanie Lois Duncan -- born 1949, in Fruita, Mesa, Colorado

(2) Rebecca Duncan -- born 1950, in Provo, Utah, Utah

(3) Ester Duncan -- born 1956, in Provo, Utah, Utah

(4) Taylor Miles Duncan -- born 1958, in Provo, Utah, Utah

(5) Gaile Duncan-- born 1960, in Provo, Utah, Utah


  • Fruita, Mesa, Colorado

(Great, great granddaughter of Chapman Duncan)

Stephanie Lois Duncan, daughter of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles, was born in 1949, in Fruita, Mesa, Colorado.  Stephanie married Warren Henry Taylor Jr., born in 1945, the son of Warren Henry Taylor and Amelia Grace Wargoski,  Their marriage was in 1977.

Five children of Stephanie Lois Duncan by husband Warren Henry Taylor Jr.

--- Christopher Warren Taylor -- born 1978, in Long Beach, California

--- Daniel Henry Taylor -- born 1979, in Long Beach, California

--- Duncan Joseph Taylor -- born 1979, in Long Beach, California

--- Samuel Reuben Taylor -- born 1983, in Bellflower, California

--- Mary Katherine Taylor -- born 1986, in Bellflower, California


  • Provo, Utah

(Great, great granddaughter of Chapman Duncan)

Rebecca Duncan, daughter of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles, was born in 1950, in Provo, Utah, Utah.  Rebecca married Jean Lamb Levanger, son of Waldo Harris Levanger and Rose Lamb Savage, in 1969, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One child of Rebecca Duncan by husband  Jean Levanger.

--- Norman Alexander Levanger -- born 1975, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Child #3 of 5: ESTHER DUNCAN

  • Provo, Utah

(Great, great granddaughter of Chapman Duncan)

Ester Duncan, daughter of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles, was born in 1956, in Provo, Utah, Utah.  Esther was an exceptional athlete, and physically fit from her competition in athletics.  Her thin, athletic body allowed her to detect a bulging in her stomach region while was in her twenties.  Esther brought the bulge to the attention of her doctor, who diagnosed it as deadly ovarian cancer.  Emergency surgery saved her life, but left her unable to bear children.  As of 2010, Esther is still alive more than 30 years later, thankful for surviving a virulent cancer that kills 95 percent of women who contract it.


  • Provo, Utah

(Great, great grandson of Chapman Duncan)

Taylor Miles Duncan, son of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles, was born in 1958 in Provo, Utah, Utah.  He married Julie Camille George, daughter of Lloyd Diamond George and Bonnie Marie York George, in 1980, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  They were later divorced and he married Mary Lynette Macey in 1985, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  Mary Lynette was born 1955, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

Two children of Taylor Miles Duncan and Julie Camille George

--- Taylor James Duncan -- born 1980, in Provo, Utah, Utah

--- Travis George Duncan -- born 1983, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Two children of Taylor Miles Duncan and Mary Lynette Macey

--- Melissa Diane Duncan -- born 1986, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

--- Rebecca Mary Duncan -- born 1995, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah


  • Provo, Utah

(Great, great granddaughter of Chapman Duncan)

Gaile Duncan, daughter of Norman Van Duncan and Flora Annie Miles, was born in 1960, in Provo, Utah, Utah.  She married David Alan Sheffer, son of Bert D. Sheffer and Eldeane Merrill Sheffer, in 1979 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  David was born in 1956, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

Five children of Gaile Duncan by David Alan Sheffer.

--- Bert Duncan Sheffer -- born 1980, in Provo, Utah, Utah

--- Nicholas Van Sheffer -- born 1982, in Beaver, Beaver, Utah

--- Merrill Miles Sheffer -- born 1983, in Orem, Utah, Utah

--- Alan David Sheffer -- born 1986, in Orem, Utah, Utah

--- Sarah Lynn Sheffer -- born 1989, in Provo, Utah, Utah