Dr. ‘Red’ Duke dies at 86; treated Connally after JFK was shot, founded Life Flight

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HOUSTON — Dr. James “Red” Duke Jr., the surgeon who treated then-Texas Gov. John Connally after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Tuesday, his family said in a statement to CNN Houston affiliate KPRC.

Duke, who also pioneered the air ambulance service Life Flight, was 86.

Duke was the first surgeon to receive President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital after Kennedy was assassinated while traveling in a Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963.

Duke also attended to then-Gov. John Connally, who was seriously wounded while sitting in the open car with the Kennedys.

Connally died in 1993.

The Duke family’s statement said:

“To countless colleagues, friends and patients, he was a skilled physician, innovative healthcare provider, exceptional communicator and dedicated conservationist. We, however, mourn him as a caring father, grandfather and devoted brother who will be deeply missed by his family.”

Duke was affiliated with both the UT Health Science Center and Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.


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