Chief Jim Duncan retires after 51 years - - Jackson, MS

Chief Jim Duncan retires after 51 years

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Today is a bittersweet day at WLBT.

Chief Photographer Jim Duncan is finally retiring after 51 years at WLBT. It's safe to say Jim has seen it all.

He grew up in Kosciusko, where his father managed a grocery store. In about the 4th grade, he says his parents gave him a camera and processing kit. 

He grew up watching his mother, a school teacher, take pictures and he learned from her. 

He later became the photographer for the yearbook at Kosciusko High School where he graduated in 1962.

He worked in the mailroom at Lamar Life Insurance Co., which owned WLBT, while he attended Hinds Community College and Belhaven College, where he majored in art.

When he was 22, the Vietnam War began. He became a Navy photographer, working in intelligence. He would process and print photographs of targets the planes would bomb and then photograph the targets afterward.

In 1970, he became a 16mm film processor at WLBT. 

But within a few years, they needed him to be out chasing news on the streets of Jackson. 

Jim has many stories to tell after being a photojournalist for the better part of half a century.

In the 1970s, Bob Hope came to Jackson and Jim got to talk to him between rehearsals. He wanted to know some local jokes and Jim suggested he do one on Cliff Finch, who was running for governor as a “working man.”

He's photographed all the governors since John Bell Williams and all the presidents since Richard Nixon.

Jim and Bert Case were a true team and they traveled the world together for 40 years, flying the first C-141 trip to Europe, eating spaghetti in Venice and surviving the war zone in Bosnia. They may not work together anymore, but this true team has remained true friends.

In the early 1980s, he and Marsha Thompson saw the space shuttle launch and felt the ground shake.

He also remembers the shooting at Pearl High School and riot at Jackson State University.

As sad as he is to leave us, Jim keeps reminding us that after 51 years, it's time. He has two daughters and five grandchildren that he can't wait to spend more time with. 

But have no fear, Jim will keep on documenting life through the lens of his camera. After all, this all started because of his love for taking pictures.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication throughout the years, Chief! We will miss you dearly!

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