Anthony Drexel Duke, the founder of Boys and Girls Harbor in East Hampton, died at his Gainsville, Florida home on Wednesday following a battle with cancer. He was 95 years old.
Mr. Duke founded the educational and performing arts nonprofit Boys Harbor in 1937. According to the Boys and Girls Harbor website, what began as a small summer camp for inner city boys became a multicultural educational and arts organization and was eventually renamed Boys and Girls Harbor.
The Harbor camp program, which operated at Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton, eventually expanded to include performing arts, tutoring and counseling programs.
Mr. Duke’s life-long public service began after he graduated from Princeton University and entered the military, serving as an assistant naval attaché, as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, as commanding officer on the USS LST-530, and as a division commander in the Battle of Normandy, according to the Boys and Girls Harbor website.
Mr. Duke later went on to serve as a member of the New York City Youth Board and also as its commissioner. He also participated in the Big Brother program and was a founding director of the board for the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation.
Mr. Duke lived much of his life in East Hampton, where he summered at the home of his mother, Cordelia Biddle Robertson. He had also lived in Southampton.
Professionally, Mr. Duke served as vice president of Duke International Import/Export Company and president of A.D. Duke Realty.
The Girls and Boys Harbor community will organize a celebration of his life and legacy. Plans for the event will be announced at a later date.