Death of Russell Duke’s father

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of James Owen Duke, father of Russell Duke, Vice Chairman of the GCI Board. Russell provided the following tribute to his Dad.

My Dad was born in 1923 and died at age 93. He leaves behind his wife of 71 years, Claire Duke, two sons, Russell and Warren, and one daughter, Kay Overstreet. He was preceded in death by his son Byron. He leaves six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Dad graduated high school in Camden, Alabama, in 1940, and with war raging in Europe, he entered the United States Marine Corps in 1941 at age 17. He was on duty in the radio room at Point Loma, California, when the call came from Pearl Harbor to another desk in the room, reporting the Japanese attack. Over the next four years he served in the South Pacific, landing in Vella Lanella Island and Choiseul Island, where he earned the Bronze Star. He completed his military service in 1946, honorably discharged, with the notation for character of service—Excellent.

In 1954, Dad became a follower of Herbert Armstrong in the Radio Church of God, ordained a deacon and then employed by the then-named Worldwide Church of God in 1969, then ordained an elder in the church, serving as associate pastor in Big Sandy, Texas (1977), then in Anniston, Alabama (1986), lastly in Dallas, Texas (1988), before retiring at age 68 in 1991.

Dad was committed to liberty, risking his very life for his country; committed to love of wife and family; and committed to faith in Jesus Christ, living his whole life for our God. And now he lives on in the hands of the Father, the heart of Jesus Christ, and the breath of the Holy Spirit.

14 thoughts on “Death of Russell Duke’s father”

  1. May the Lord grant you and your family comfort and peace at this difficult time. Many wonderful memories will sustain you as you continue forward in your father’s legacy. Deeply missed — fondly remembered. Ray and Carol Meyer

  2. I was privileged to learn at the feet of your Dad as a ministerial trainee and fondly remember his humility and deep commitment to faith in Jesus Christ. Both James and Claire treated me with such dignity and love. May his exemplary life in the Lord and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit strengthen and sustain you. Gabriel Ojih

  3. Dear Dr. Duke,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire family. Living a long and fruitful life in the Lord is the desire of every Christian. While every race has a beginning it is the sucessful crossing of the finish line that we all yearn after. We can only but admire such a packed and unselfish life dedicated to the service of others.

    May our great God fill you with His shalom.

    In Him,
    Santiago and Elke

  4. To the Duke family: I remember your dad. I worked in the food service department as a student at Ambassador College. As I recall James was involved in a commissary for the local church and he made frequent deliveries to the college. He lived a long, full, and productive life. May God’s peace be with you.

  5. Our prayers are with you, Phyllis and the entire family – including his extended church family
    Glen and Connie

  6. Dear Russell,

    Emma Lee and I mourn with you and the entire Duke family at the loss of your Dad, but we celebrate a life well lived. I never knew all of those things about him. I know you were proud of him, as I’m sure he was of you.

    With Great Love,
    PD and Emma Lee

  7. I cherish my years serving with him in the Tyler, Texas congregation. It was an honor to know him and his wife. They were were known and highly respected in the congrecation.
    With great respect and love, he will be remembered.
    Tom and Pam Smith

  8. Hello Russell,
    What a great story, sorry to see him go,
    The few times I met your Dad I was impressed with his humble ways .it is men like him who built this church, and made this nation great. I pray you are all doing well after this sad news. It will be great to see him later in a happier place. Roger Lippross

  9. Your father lived a blessed life on earth in that he lived for liberty, family and God. Our condolences to you and your family.
    John and Sue

  10. Thank you for sharing his story. I am personally inspired from what I read about him. How his love for GOD, his family and work -Excellent

    Praying for you all knowing he will surely missed by all. Thank God for the assurance that we will see our loved ones again.


    Tabin Family

  11. Hello Russell,
    I remember your father back when he was the associate pastor of the Anniston and Gadsden congregations years ago. I remember him as a kind, humble, peaceful person. What I remember most about him is the presence of the fruits of the Spirit in his life-which is evident that God was at work in his heart. May God comfort you and your family in this difficult time.

    Mark Nelson

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