Eleanor Lyon Duke, Ph.D., passed away quietly on November 1. Dr. Duke was born on April 12, 1918 to William Luther Lyon and Eleanor Ida McCamant in Marfa, Texas. After moving to El Paso at a very young age, she graduated from Crockett Middle School, Austin High School, and Texas College of Mines. She obtained a degree in Biology in 1939 and later that year married the love of her life, Jack N. Duke. After more than 62 years of marriage, Jack passed away in 2002. Dr. Duke obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Texas at Austin in 1967 with a thesis on the "Production Study of a Thermal Spring" which focused on the life cycle of protozoans. She taught biology and microbiology at the University of Texas El Paso from 1948 until her retirement in 1985. She was an important early leader in the struggle for equal pay for women at UTEP, tirelessly encouraged women's interest in science, technology and math, and was named to the El Paso Women's Hall of Fame for her lasting impact on the El Paso community. In 1974 she was named UTEP's Outstanding Ex. She enjoyed her long status as Professor Emeritus and UTEP functions held over the years, and served on the UTEP Heritage Commission. She was involved with TCM, Texas Western College, and UTEP in one way or another for 78 years. Jack and Eleanor traveled extensively while he was in the service and later in an Airstream trailer. She loved genealogy and traced the Lyon family back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, leading her to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She loved her UTEP "Library Lunch Bunch" as well as her writing buddies. She was beloved by her nieces and nephews, who knew her as "Aunt Mary." A voracious reader, she decided as a child to read all the books in the Albuquerque public library in alphabetical order and was at least a third of the way through when the library was reorganized. Having no children of her own, she became friend and mentor to her nephews and nieces, involving them in her research, inspiring their curiosity, and encouraging their own pursuit of knowledge. She is survived by her only brother, William Luther Lyon, Jr. and his wife Verna Mae Orts Lyon, and Jack's only sister Louise Duke Cross, and by three nieces and seven nephews and their spouses: Connie Cross Pope (Pat), David W. Lyon, Catharine Lyon Brehm (Ronald), Richard F. Lyon (Margaret Asprey), James M. Lyon (Linda), Robert B. Lyon (Linda Weinert), Thomas L. Lyon (JoAnn Kahn), Eleanor Lyon Smyth (Frank), William L. Lyon III (Stephanie), and Jack C. Lyon (Lynette) along with many grand-nieces, grand-nephews, great-grand-nieces and great-grand-nephews. She will be missed by all. The family gives special thanks to Dr. Munir Ossi as well as Gloria Echeverria, Jessica Valdez and Claudia Munoz who cared for her with great love and affection. Visitation will be held Thursday November 7, 2013 from 4-9 pm at Martin Funeral Home, 3839 Montana Avenue. Graveside services will be held at Restlawn Cemetery, 4848 Alps Dr. on November 8, 2013 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lyon Family Foundation (West Star Bank/Terry Crenshaw) which was created in Dr. Duke's honor on her 90th birthday to provide scholarships to local college students facing roadblocks to graduation. She was proud that thus far the Foundation has helped graduate 16 students from UTEP and one from the Texas Tech University Linda Graves School of Nursing. Services entrusted to Martin Funeral Home Central, 3839 Montana Ave.
Published in El Paso Times from Nov. 2 to Nov. 13, 2013