If you lived in Texas in the 1980s and ’90s, this name will likely ring a bell; if not, his voice probably will:
“From the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, I’m Dr. Red Duke,” James Henry “Red” Duke Jr. used to say on his regular TV broadcasts that aired across the Lone Star State.
In his “Health Reports,” Duke would go to construction sites, rodeo arenas and restaurants while talking about everything from kidney stones to potatoes. He was also a surgeon, an Eagle Scout, an ordained minister, a conservationist and a pioneer and visionary in the medical field. A new book by Bryant Boutwell called “I’m Dr. Red Duke” explores all those sides of the Duke.
Boutwell says he got to know Duke when he was associate dean of the Health Science Center and Duke was practicing medicine there. Boutwell says Duke was unique.
“I worked 44 years in the medical center with some of the great names in medicine, and there’s no one like Red Duke, and I don’t think there ever will be,” Boutwell says.
Duke was born and raised in small-town Texas.
“He had that small-town approach – common sense,” Boutwell says. “But he had the skills of the very best trauma surgeon in the world.”
Duke was always a character, Boutwell says – always seeking attention. That personality got Duke the gig hosting health segments that appeared on local TV stations across Texas, often at the end of a newscast.
“Red was very committed to prevention, and teaching the public about prevention,” Boutwell says.
Boutwell says famed physician William Osler was a professional role model for Duke. Osler was a Canadian, known for his humanistic approach to patient care.
“[Duke] used to say, ‘we’re caring for a patient, not a disease,'” Boutwell says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.