Rick Smith Spirit of Texas Award Recipeient
Dr. James H. "Red" Duke, Jr.
Dr. "Red" Duke is a true Texas icon. Dr. Duke’s life as well as his list of achievements and accolades is as endless as his Texas spirit. Growing up in Central Texas, Duke’s work ethic began at an early age. As a young boy, he ran paper routes, dug ditches, harvested cotton and earned the honor of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America. Dr. Duke, a member of the Corps of Cadets and Yell Leader, graduated from Texas A&M University in 1950 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Upon graduation, he became a U.S. Army commissioned officer and member of the 67th Medium Tank Battalion of the Second Armor Division stationed in Germany.
He returned to Texas in 1956 and enrolled in Medical School at the UT Southwestern. After completing his internal medicine internship at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Duke received the NIH Special Fellowship at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Duke’s medical endeavors have taken him all over the United States and around the world. After spending the early 70s assisting in the development of a medical school in Afghanistan, Dr. Duke returned home to Texas. Upon his return, Dr. Duke was asked to establish the trauma unit at Hermann Hospital in Houston. During his tenure as Chief of Trauma, Dr. Duke established the first Life Flight Helicopter System in Texas. Duke also hosted the nationally syndicated television show Texas Health Reports. Among his many honors, Dr. Duke is a member of the Texas A&M University Corps Hall of Honor; selected as “Surgeon of the Year” in 1988 by the James F. Mitchell Foundation and the recipient of the 2008 Thurman Award for excellence in Telemedicine and Advanced Medical Technology. Dr. Duke is also a founding member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (International Committee & Health Committee), founder of the Texas Big Horn Society, and past President of the Boone & Crockett Club.