Houston Treasure for 2012
Photo by: Evin Thayer Studios
Dr. James H. “Red” Duke, Jr. was born in Ennis, Texas in 1928. His father employed a very effective philosophy of raising a son: keep the boy busy and let him learn the principles and values of daily work discipline and respect for others. He worked on a succession of manual labor jobs and was also active in his church and the Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout, which he credits as highly significant in forming his life’s principles.
Following graduation from Texas A&M, where he was a yell leader, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army and his battalion was soon deployed as the Second American Division of NATO. Upon his discharge, he enrolled and graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Pursuing his lifelong desire to become a physician, he graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1960. Later, he joined a medical consortium to assist in the development of a fledgling medical school in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
After two years in Afghanistan, Red joined the faculty at the new University of Texas Medical School at Houston and started the trauma service at Hermann Hospital which gave birth to the Life Flight helicopter service, exponentially improving the quality of patient care and outcomes. Today, Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center is one of the largest in the nation. His syndicated Dr. Red Duke’s Health Reports on television for fifteen years brought national attention to the Texas Medical Center.
Dr. Duke’s interest in wildlife conservation compelled him to form the Texas Bighorn Society to assist the Texas Park and Wildlife Department in restoring wild bighorn sheep to their native habitat. Now, up to 2,000 sheep occupy the mountains of West Texas. He has served on the boards and as president of both the Foundation of North American Wild Sheep and the Boone and Crockett Club, founded by Theodore Roosevelt to promote the conservation of wildlife and habitat.
He is grateful to have been privileged be a part of so many meaningful initiatives, including helping raise four interesting children.