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Ofield Dukes, an icon among public relations professionals, dies at 79
(December 12, 2011) Ofield Dukes, an iconic figure in public relations and founder of the prominent Ofield Dukes & Associates in Washington, D.C., died Dec. 7 in a Detroit hospital at the age of 79. Having retired earlier this year to his hometown, Dukes succumbed to a form of bone cancer, according to his sister, Betty Hayden.
Funeral services for Dukes, will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2080 W Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48208, 313-898-3325 A wake will be held at 10 a.m.
Dukes was born Aug. 8, 1932, in Rutledge, Ala., and moved as a child to Detroit. He served in the Army during the Korean War. A journalism graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit in l958, Dukes captured three National Newspaper Publishers Association awards for editorial, column and feature writing for the Michigan Chronicle in l964.
He relocated to Washington, DC in l964 to join the Johnson-Humphrey administration as Deputy Director of Information for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, chaired by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In l966, he was appointed to the staff of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, serving through l968. Dukes started his own public relations firm in l969 with an office at the National Press Building. Motown Records was his first client and Lever Brothers his second. He won PRSA's Silver Anvil Award in l975 and that same year was described by the Washington Post as one of the top public relations persuaders in the city.
Dukes helped organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner and served on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change. He has also been a communications consultant for every Democratic presidential campaign since l972. In l993, he founded the Black Public Relations Society of Washington.
At Howard University, where he taught as an adjunct professor for l7 years, he was instrumental in formulating the public relations curriculum. Dukes also served as an adjunct professor in the School of Communications at The American University for eight years. Wherever he has taught, he is credited with training and influencing hundreds of his students to enter public relations.
Among the many professional honors he received was being among the first in 1999 to be inducted into the Washington, DC/National Capital PRSA Hall of Fame, being inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 2003, and receiving Ball State University's National Public Relations Achievement Award for 2003.
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