George Franklin DUKES Jr.

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DUKES, George Franklin Jr., of Tampa, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, April 16, 2012, at the age of 102. He was known as "Franklin" to his family and "George" to the rest of us. He was born, also at home, on June 23, 1909, in Sandersville, Georgia, the son of G. Franklin Dukes and Sallie Olivia Phillips. His maternal grandfather had been a member of the Army of Northern Virginia (C.S.A.) and had been given the honor of guarding the tent of General Robert E. Lee. His parents met while both were serving as railroad telegraphers in South Carolina; during slack times they were able to exchange romantic messages in Morse code. After graduating from high school, George was given the opportunity to attend Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. There he obtained a law degree and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega society fraternity. He also became a member of the Free & Accepted Masons, eventually receiving recognition for 80 years of membership. From 1936 to 1941, he attempted to build a law practice in Sandersville, not an easy thing in the heart of the Depression. In 1937-38, he served a term in the Georgia Legislature. In 1940, he was drafted by the U.S. Army, given basic training, and sent home. He put his legal career on hold in 1941 and joined the Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. as a claims adjuster; but six months later he was recalled to active duty and promoted to sergeant. Tiring of kitchen work, however, he discovered that his test scores qualified him for Officer Candidate School, which he entered and from which he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the military police. George spent the war in England, where he became a Provost Marshall, responsible for police work and security at an Army Air Force fighter base. By the time of his discharge in 1946, he had been promoted to Captain. After the war he resumed his career with Aetna. In 1950, despite his mother's lifelong hatred of Yankees, he married a redheaded Irish girl, Isabel E. Flynn of Buffalo, New York. He was assigned to Miami. In 1955, he was transferred to Tampa, where he and Isabel bought a house on Davis Islands, the house where George lived for 57 years. George worked for Aetna until 1974 when, per company policy, he was required to retire. The Tampa law firm of Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal & Banker had served as counsel for Aetna and was therefore familiar with George; Morris E. White of that firm suggested to George that he consider coming to work for the firm, which George did. Under the supervision of Robert E. Banker, he handled various trial matters for another eleven years, enjoying the work immensely and only with reluctance retiring a second time in 1985, when he was 76. In 1989, George suffered the loss of Isabel. He formally adopted her daughter, Kathaleen Carbone, but Kathaleen also died before him. His vision faded and his hearing declined, but his mind remained clear until the end. Through it all, George was unfailingly kind, thoughtful, and tolerant, the most gracious of men and a Southern gentleman in the finest sense of the term. George is survived by Kathaleen's children, Kathaleen Carbone-McNally of Montreal, Canada, and Mary Carbone of New Jersey; his nephew, John Dukes and wife Gwyn of Los Altos Hills, California; his nephew, Walter C. McMillan and wife Paige of Sandersville, Georgia; and his great-nephew, James D. Pascal and wife Ruby of Cape Coral, Florida. He is also survived by his good friends, Don and Anne MacMillan of Tampa, who looked after him so lovingly for so many years, and by legions of other friends and legal colleagues. A fact which perhaps sums up George's life as well as any other is this: towards the end of his life, when he required caregivers to attend to him in his home, the caregivers all brought their children and grand-children to meet him. This made George happy. A future memorial service is planned. Words of comfort may be expressed at www.blountcurry.com
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Published in TBO.com on Apr. 22, 2012
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