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Angier B. Duke, 79; Former Envoy, White House Aide

May 01, 1995| From Associated Press

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Angier Biddle Duke, a diplomat, chief of protocol in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and member of a family that made a fortune in tobacco, was hit by a car and killed while in-line skating. He was 79.

Duke was hit Saturday while skating near his Long Island home, police said Sunday.

From 1952 to 1981, Duke held, at various times, the posts of ambassador to El Salvador, Denmark, Spain and Morocco.

After retiring from diplomatic service in 1981, he served for several years as chancellor of the Southampton Center of Long Island University. More recently, he was chairman of Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America, a Washington-based group supporting rebels against Nicaragua's former Marxist government.

Duke was born in New York City on Nov. 20, 1915, to Angier Buchanan Duke, heir to part of the fortune from the American Tobacco Co., and Cordelia Drexel Biddle of Philadelphia, a writer.

His great-uncle James Buchanan Duke founded the tobacco company in 1890. His grandfather Benjamin N. Duke and his grandfather's brother James heavily endowed Trinity College, renamed Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

Duke was a cousin of the late Doris Duke, who became known as "the richest girl in the world" when she inherited $1.2 billion from James Buchanan Duke, her father, at age 12 in 1925.

Angier Duke entered Yale in 1934 but dropped out two years later. He was married briefly to Priscilla St. George, the first of four wives.

For a time, he worked in New York as skiing editor for a sports magazine.

During World War II, he served as an Air Force officer in North Africa and Europe and was discharged with the rank of major.

After the war, he worked for the Democratic Party and was named assistant to A. Stanton Griffis, who was appointed ambassador to Argentina in 1949.

In 1952, President Harry S. Truman appointed Duke--then 36--ambassador to El Salvador, making him the youngest person in U.S. history to hold such a post.

That year, Duke married Maria-Luisa de Aranal of Spain, months after his second marriage to Margaret Screven White failed.

He was president of the International Rescue Committee, which assists refugees and other victims of political upheavals, from 1954 to 1960.

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy asked Duke, a personal friend, to be his chief of protocol, the role he held when world leaders attended Kennedy's funeral three years later. Kennedy had also granted him the personal rank of ambassador.

Duke used his office to help nonwhite diplomats find housing. He resigned from the Metropolitan Club of Washington in 1961 after it refused to admit black diplomats.

The same year, his third wife was killed in a plane crash. In 1962, he married Robin Chandler Lynn.

President Lyndon B. Johnson sent Duke to Spain as ambassador in 1965, and at the end of 1967 appointed him chief of protocol.

Duke held two other ambassadorships, to Denmark from 1968 to 1969 and to Morocco from 1979 to 1981.

He is survived by a daughter, three sons, a stepson and stepdaughter, a brother and five grandchildren.

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