Merlin Duke

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Merlin Duke, 76, a resident of Bogalusa, passed away on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, at Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington. He was born on Feb. 27, 1941, in Mamou.

A 1958 graduate of Eunice High School, he received a B.A. Degree in Speech Education from Louisiana College in 1962. He was a certified Speech Pathologist, then received a Master’s Degree in Special Education in 1971 from Southeastern Louisiana University, as well as a Plus 30 designation. He taught at Opelousas High School for four years and then became a speech pathologist for Bogalusa City Schools for 16 years until he retired from public education in 1982. In 1984, Merlin went to work at WCI as a correctional classification officer/adult education and retired in 2004.

In 2004, he became a director for Tobacco Free Living for three years, providing public and private schools in Washington Parish with lessons concerning the avoidance of harmful tobacco products and drugs.

In 2007, Merlin became the patient advocate for LSUBMC/Our Lady of Angels Hospital in Bogalusa until 2014 when he finally retired.

Merlin was active in so many organizations. He was a 50-plus-year member of ESM United Methodist Church and an organizer of the New Day Sunday School class. He was selected as Bogalusa’s Man of the Year in 1974. He was a devoted member of the Rotary International, where he traveled to India for six weeks in 1976 for a humanitarian exchange. He later led two Rotary cultural exchange groups to France and to Canada. He was president of the Bogalusa club, a Paul Harris Fellow and Assistant District Governor. He was among the first members of the Washington Parish Republicans.

He was a charter member of MCCA, serving as its King MCCA XVI in 1996. He was active in the Milltown Players, Bogalusa Country Club, L’Heritage Francais, FNLB, Humane Society, AARP, the Washington Parish Commission on Human Services, and DKLMS.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Eleanor Watson Duke of Bogalusa; two sons, David Merlin Duke of Bogalusa, and Damon Watson (Nikki Stewart) Duke of Madisonville; and his beloved sweet grandson, Finn Gabriel Duke, who called him Papere.

Visitation will be held at Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home on Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Visitation will continue at Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial United Methodist Church on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Funeral services will begin at 2 p.m., with the Rev. Bill Moon officiating. Interment will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to ESM or the Nellie Byers Training Center.

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