David Duncombe

The Rev. David Duncombe fasted for 45 days in 1999 and lobbied Congress to forgive the debts of impoverished countries.

When David Cameron Duncombe was still a teen-ager, on the first of two European tours in the U.S. Army, he had what he called a "conversion experience."

Walking away from the post exchange with his "weekly ration of chocolate bars" in his satchel, he crossed a small stone bridge. Suddenly, he was surrounded with young boys chanting, "Chocolate. Chocolate."

Initially, Duncombe kept walking. "But something inside seemed to snap," he recalled later and he thought, "I can't go on living like this. From that moment, I knew my life had to be one of giving to others."

Duncombe, 82, died Saturday at his home in White Salmon, Wash., surrounded by his family. A dedicated social activist and retired medical school chaplain, he had suffered for years with lung problems after contracting tuberculosis during one of his many jail stays. He died just a few days after learning he had cancer.