Lee Duke - father, husband, maverick, bon vivant, raconteur, charming fabulist and also aeronautical engineer for NASA - died at home on July 12, 2021, after a long illness.

Lee Duke, who wisely refused to be called by his given name Eugene, was an unconventional host, noted for his sparkling yet vulgar conversation, drinks that could melt your eyebrows off and gingerbread that made angels cry tears of joy.

After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, despite never having finished high school, Lee began an illustrious career at NASA where he worked on many projects, notably on the HiMAT (Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology) that formed part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s “Computation to Flight” exhibit for over 20 years. He also was involved in the creation of the Space Shuttle simulation at the Dryden facility, and he published over 70 technical papers, four of which were published by NASA.

Throughout his prolific career and into retirement, Lee always found time to serve passionately as a mentor and an educator for upcoming engineers and mathematicians. He also was an active soccer referee and coach, culminating in leading the girls’ team “Wild Thing.” While he led the team to local success, more importantly to him, he encouraged the young women to do their best with the same quality performance and joyous play that he brought to anything he did.

While his professional accomplishments are impressive, Lee was most proud of raising two daughters which he did with irreverent humor, goofiness, curiosity, openmindedness, terrible dancing and a tremendous amount of love and support.

In addition to his daughters Jennifer Armelle Duke Devine and Calin Alexandra Duke, he leaves behind his wife Wendy Christine Duke and his stepdaughter Jennifer Callahan and her deceased spouse Angelina Callahan, and grandson, Iverson Tucker, granddaughter, Dixie Tucker. The world is a less colorful place without Lee - an iconoclast until the end.

Memorial services will be held at a later date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, please buy a great bottle of wine and share it with the people you love. Alternatively, please make a donation to one of these worthy charities: Girlstart (for girls in STEM) or The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which supports education and a variety of social justice initiatives for young people.

Arrangements are by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.

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