Mattie J. Duke, 76, passed away peacefully in the company of her family, in her home Sunday, March 3, 2013. Mattie J. Duke was the youngest child of Alberta, and William Gilkey. She was born on September 9, 1936 in Macon, Mississippi.
The family relocated to South Bend, Indiana in 1941. She received her education in the South Bend community school Corporation, graduating from Washington High School in 1955. Mattie earned her Bachelor and Master Degrees from Indiana University in education. Her career started at Oliver school, continuing at the Muessel Junior High, Brown Middle and ended at John Adams High School. She retired in 1996 after teaching special needs students for 26 years. She was a member of the Urban League Guild; National Education Association; Indiana State Teachers Association; Order of The Eastern Star Household of Ruth; and the Rum Village Neighborhood Association. She was a volunteer at the Rum Village, Food Pantry.
Mattie had a profound influence on the lives of her students. Some of them still kept in contact with her and she very seldom went out in public without someone saying."Hi Miss Duke, do you remember me? I was one of your students." She would then have to call them sweetheart or honey because it would take a few minutes for her to remember their names. She was employed by Dr. HD Bell as a doctor's assistant for 10 years. The patients loved her, because they were treated with so much love and respect.
Mattie accepted Christ in 1947, at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor, Louis Johnson. At Macedonia, she was very active in Sunday school; Junior Choir; Sunshine Band; Red Circle; and Junior Usher Board. Later she worked with the Nurse's Guild; served as Announcing Clerk; Sunday School Teacher; and sang in the Senior Chorus. She united with Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in 1981, under the leadership of Pastor Hardy N. Petty. Mattie continued working with the Sunday School and Nurses. She was a charter member of the Good Samaritan Ministry. This was truly her favorite Ministry, because she loved working with the sick and shut in and senior citizens.
Mattie was an incredible caring lady, who made this world a better place with her special touch and nurturing love. She had a personal way of offering sound advice to many of the young ladies at Bethlehem. She will be remembered and cherished in the hearts of all who knew and loved her. She had a smile that would light up a room when she entered. Mattie was a caregiver for many people, which included family members and friends. She had many friends and acquaintances. She was always available to listen, advice, counsel, witness, and console and encourage. A difference was made in the many lives that she touched.
She married her high school sweetheart, James H. Easton on July 10, 1958. They had two sons, James H. Jr. and Scott E. The couple later divorced. On October 10, 1981, she was united in holy matrimony to Joe E. Duke Sr. Four more children came into her life at that time.
Mattie leaves to grieve her passing, yet cherish her memory, a loving, devoted and supportive husband, Joe E. Duke Sr.; three sons, James H. (Vonchrusha) Easton Jr., Scott E. (Debra) Easton of Jacksonville, Florida and Joe E. (Nancee) Duke Jr. of Bicknell, Indiana; three daughters, Karla Smith, Karmen and Kelli Duke of South Bend, Indiana; thirteen grandchildren, Jason Shields of Live Oak Texas, Senita (Jonathan) Deihs of Camden, South Carolina, Shante, Nakele, Scott E, and William Easton, of Jacksonville Florida, Brianna and Brandon Smith, Bryan Ross, Khalil Goodsell and Dahvin Duke of South Bend, Indiana, Sierra and Brennen Duke of Bicknell, Indiana; four great-grandchildren; a sister, Corine Ross of South Bend Indiana; two sisters-in-law, Victoria Bullard of South Bend, Indiana and Juanita Gilkey of South Bend, Indiana; one brother-in-law, Jerome Bullard of South Bend, Indiana; a mother-in-law, Mildred O. Lee of South Bend, Indiana; godmother, La Velion Hill of Memphis, Tennessee; a goddaughter, Ramona Parks of Chicago, Illinois; and god brother, Louis Turley of Toledo Ohio; a very dear friend, Lillie Mae Barnes of South Bend, Indiana; and a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Loving family members, who preceded her in death, along with her parents were, her stepmother, Gertrude Gilkey; her brother, William Gilkey Jr.; a sister Willa Conners; and granddaughter, Rejoice Easton.
Visitation for Mattie J. Duke will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2013, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 24393 Fillmore Road, South Bend, Indiana. Funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013 in Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. Friends may call one hour prior to service for visitation. Burial will follow in Riverview Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made in her name to the Center for Hospice Care.