The reported death of Ofield Dukes, Dec. 6, has caused the African American community to pause out of respect for the loss of talent and fervor, and out of wonderment at how that particular void will be filled.
He founded Ofield Dukes and Associates and for 42 years set the standard of excellence for public relations work that ventured into the fight for justice and into the mainstream in brand new ways.
Dukes helped organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner and served on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change.
In 1993, he founded the Black Public Relations Society of Washington.
He was among the first to be inducted into the Washington, D.C./National Capital PRSA Hall of Fame in 1999.
He was the first African American to receive the Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Anvil in 2001, the highest individual award in the public relations industry.
In 2002 Cathy Hughes, founder and CEO of Radio One, named the building that would house three of her Detroit stations the Ofield Dukes Building.
In 2003 he was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. In the same year he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for Community Service.
In 2005 he was named, by PRWeek, one of five “Communicators who Awed.”
Dukes was known to say, “Public relations is synonymous with human communication.” In a publication of the African American Public Relations Collective, he said, “Even Jesus Christ was involved in communications. He had the disciples as advance persons and John the Baptist was sort of a PR agent.” He said public relations is more than just promoting an event or just engaging in an outpouring of publicity.
“Ofield Dukes revolutionized the public relations industry by increasing the visibility of African Americans working in the field,” Gregory Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), said in a statement. He will forever be regarded as a standard bearer for public relations professionals of all races.”
Lee called him a “true giant in the world of PR,” and said he will truly be missed.
Dukes, 79, died peacefully at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Arrangements will be posted as received.
Funeral and Memorial Service for PR Pioneer Ofield Dukes Planned for Detroit, Washington
The details of the funeral include the following:
Visitation: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Wake: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
The visitation and wake will be held at the funeral home:
James H. Cole Funeral Home
16100 Schaefer Highway
Detroit, MI 48235
Laying in State: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Funeral Service: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:00 am
Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
2080 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208
Washington, DC Memorial Service
When: Friday, January 13, 2012
Time: 12 noon
Where:Shiloh Baptist Church
1500 Ninth Street, NW
Confirmed attendees include Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, former Mayor Sharon Pratt, representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, Dorothy Leavell, Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Dukes operated his PR firm, Ofield Dukes & Associates, for more than four decades in the nation’s capital before returning to his hometown of Detroit in September, 2011.