Lee Stoll Dukes, Jr. ’42

Lee Stoll Dukes, Jr. ’42, 91, of Charlotte, N.C., died June 19 at Presbyterian Hospital. Dukes was born on May 11, 1920, in Branchville, S.C., to the late Carrie Lucile Ott and Lee Stoll Dukes. The family lived at various locations due to employment with the railroad. Dukes went to work in a café in Belmont that the family purchased after graduating from high school. During that time a friend who was planning to register for Belmont Abbey College asked Dukes to ride there with him, and Dukes was asked by one of the priests if he would like to attend. When Dukes answered that he didn’t have the money to attend, the priest said to just come on anyway. He studied there for two years and then went on to Davidson, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology. Immediately after graduation he served in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed at Norfolk, Va. Dukes married Doris Jean Neal on July 2, 1944. After his time in the service, they returned to Charlotte, where Dukes worked in the family grocery store business until he began employment as a chemist with the Charlotte Water Department in 1948. He completed his master’s degree in public health at UNC Chapel Hill while continuing his career with the water department. He left briefly during 1965-68 to work in the chief of engineering section/sanitary engineering division of the N.C. Board of Health in Raleigh, N.C., but returned to Charlotte, and in 1974 became director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities. He retired in 1980. On May 31, 2005, the North Mecklenburg Water Treatment Plant was renamed the Lee S. Dukes, Jr. Water Treatment Plant in recognition of his legacy of dedicated public service with the city and in the water/wastewater profession. Upon his retirement Dukes began actively pursuing his passion for woodcarving. He taught woodcarving classes at Shepherd’s Center for 25 years, joined the Tar Heel Woodcarvers Club, and in 1982 formed the Charlotte Woodcarvers Club. He was recently honored at the club’s 28th Showcase of Woodcarvings, dedicated to him. When he moved to Aldersgate Retirement Community in 2006, much of his woodcarving collection was moved to be displayed at the Lee S. Dukes, Jr. Water Treatment Plant. Another passion for Dukes was his love of music. He first noticed his future bride in the choir at Wesley Heights Methodist Church and later met her at a square dance, where he was playing guitar in the band. He used his woodworking skills to make two mandolins, which he enjoyed playing through the years, and he fostered the love of music in his children. In 1968 Dukes joined Myers Park United Methodist Church, where he remained an active member until his death. He taught Sunday school for a total of 70 years at the various congregations where he was a member, most recently for the fellowship and Ruth Fisher classes at Myers Park. Amidst all of his accomplishments and recognitions, a primary core value of his life was always his love and dedication to his family. Dukes was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, in 2003. Survivors include his son, Dr. Lee S. Dukes III (Minnie), 212 Arbor Dr., Lexington, NC 27292-5548; daughters, Sylvia Dukes Elwyn (Rich) and Elaine Dukes Turner (Fred); four granddaughters, Kathryn Elaine Dukes Miller, Allison Margaret Turner, Lauren Elaine Turner, and Meredith Elise Turner; one great-grandson, Charles Edmund Miller; his sister, Dorothy Rudisill; and many nieces and nephews.