The PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter is saddened to announce the recent passing of one of our distinguished members. W. Thomas “Tom” Duke, 84, who passed away Sunday, June 18, 2017.
Born April 24, 1933, in Akron, Ohio, to Bill & Grace Duke, Tom was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend and colleague.
Tom was a veteran public relations practitioner holding managerial positions at Ohio Edison, Cooper Industries and The B.F. Goodrich Company and leadership positions at the Urda Company, Akron and Jackson-Dawson Marketing Communications, Greenville, S.C. Tom’s clients in the automotive industry included Michelin North America, BMW and TRW, as well as clients in other areas, including food, education, non-profit and textiles.
He was an Accredited Public Relations (APR) practitioner and a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) College of Fellows. He was the founding president of the Akron Area Chapter of PRSA in 1968 and 1969, having spun it off the Cleveland chapter, served another term as president in 2010 and was president of the South Carolina Chapter. He was made a life member of the Akron Chapter in 1994 and of the South Carolina chapter in 2005 in recognition of his service to the chapters.
In 2003, Tom was named the Outstanding Public Relations Practitioner in South Carolina and the South Carolina Chapter honored him by renaming this award after him in 2007. He received the Lighthouse Award from the Cleveland Chapter of PRSA for lifetime achievement in 2012 and the East Central PRSA District lifetime achievement award in 2013. Tom was a member of the PRSA National Board of Ethics and Professional Standards and a member of the Professional Advisory Board for the Kent State University (KSU) School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC).
He was named Outstanding Alumnus of the KSU JMC School (William Taylor Award), having graduated from KSU with a BS degree in Journalism and from The Ohio State University Advanced Management Program. He was a board member of the Akron YMCA Endowment Foundation and a member of the Communications Committee of the United Way of Summit County.
Tom was a director and officer of a multitude of organizations in Ohio and South Carolina. He retired from Jackson-Dawson Marketing Communications in Greenville in 2007. He lectured at Kent State University, The University of Akron, The University of South Carolina, Winthrop University, Furman University and Bob Jones University.
Most recently, Tom served as the chair of Akron SCORE, a volunteer organization that supplies advice and counsel to small businesses through mentoring and workshops.
Tom enjoyed a lifelong passion for sports, a quest for knowledge through reading and spending time with his family.
Tom is loved and survived by his wife, Juanita, of 28 years; children, Terrill (Gregg) Mervis, Greg (Carrie) Snyder, Tom Snyder, Ben (Shelia) Duke, and Andy (Shauna) Duke; grandchildren, Gracie, Isabella, Maxwell, Collin, Megan and Joe; and cousin, Jill (Wendell) Horn; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Joe and Linda Boles. Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Grace Duke and his sister and brother-in-law, Jackie and Jack Marshall.