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HOUSTON -- Dan Duncan, one of Houston s wealthiest men, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night at his River Oaks home.Hewas 77.

Duncan's wasa rags-to-riches story. He grew up in a poor family and was raised byhis grandmotherin Center, Texas.

42years ago, Duncan started a business with a few thousand dollars and two trucks. Enterprise Products Partners grew intoone of the largest pipeline and natural gas processing companies in the world.

If you were to look at his career, and the things that he accomplished from the start that he had, it is quite remarkable and I have the ultimate respect for his accomplishments, said friend and colleague Corby Robertson, Jr.

Despite Duncan's wealth,friends say he shied away from publicity. He was a soft-spoken man with a tremendous amount of humility.

It was like someone had hit me in the stomach, saidRobertson, Jr. I was just so saddened. We lost a great man.

Friends say he lived byhis grandmother'smotto: Do the best you can do every day.

Forbes Magazine recently named Duncan as the 74th richest person in the world with a fortune ofover $9 billion.

In 2007, Duncan was listed by Forbes as Houston s richest resident and the third wealthiest in Texas.

The Duncans have been more than generous with their riches. They've donated more than $200 million of their vast fortune to medical centers and museums in recent years.

Duncan, who was a prostate cancer survivor, donated more than $100 million to the Dan Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor.

I had heartthrobs almost about it, because Dan meant so much to us, said Baylor College of Medicine Interim President Dr. William T. Butler. Dan did more than give money. He worked behind the scenes all the time, many meetings behind the scenes and in his home thinking about how to best accomplish what we are trying to accomplish.

M.D. Anderson President John Mendelsohn agreed.

It is with immeasurable sadness and that l learned today of the passing of Dan Duncan, he said. The city of Houston, and indeed the nation, have lost a wonderful man and philanthropic pioneer who leaves behind a legacy of generosity and advocacy across health care disciplines and so many humanitarian endeavors.

The entire Enterprise family mourns the unexpected passing of Dan Duncan who will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, said Michael A. Creel, Enterprise president and chief executive officer, on the company's Web site.

Duncan had a passion for hunting and he collected trophies from around the world.

In 2007, Duncan was cleared of wrongdoing by a Houston grand jury after being questioned about a 2002 hunting trip in Russia.

He admitted he killed a moose and wild sheep from a helicopter which is illegal in Russia but said he didn t know he was breaking the law.

Duncan is survived by his wife of 20 years, Jan, four children and four grandchildren.

Hiscause of death is not yet known.

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