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Remembering Dr. Jim Duke

Fri. December 15, 2017

It is with great sadness I inform you that James A. “Jim” Duke, Ph.D., passed away at his home Sunday evening at the age of 88.

Jim was a much-loved and valued member of the MUIH community. He had served as a distinguished herbal lecturer with MUIH, and provided rare, enriching, and unforgettable learning experiences for students at his Green Farmacy Garden.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 4, 1929, Jim exhibited a passion for bluegrass music and played in a Dixieland jazz band while in college. He rose to prominence as a world-renowned ethnobotanist during his 32-year career with the United States Department of Agriculture. While at the USDA, he developed the agency's Phytochemical and Ethnobotantical Database which is still one of the most frequently consulted areas of the USDA website. Jim was a Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), where he was elected distinguished alumnus some 50 years after his degree was conferred.

After retiring in 1995, Jim continued to compile data on medicinal plants and update several of his 30 published books. Fluent in Spanish, he frequently led ethnobotanical trips to ecologically rich areas of the world. Jim also served as one of the founding members of the Board of Trustees of the American Botanical Council.

Located just three miles from the MUIH campus, Jim Duke established the Green Farmacy Garden in 1998. It hosts 300 medicinal plant species from around the world, including vegetation of multiple habitats. Students and faculty have spent many pleasant hours at the Green Farmacy Garden viewing the morphology and spirit of the plants with the passing of the seasons. In a life estate arrangement with Jim and Peggy Duke, MUIH will inherit the garden and the beautiful six-acre property.

Through his generosity and passion for the natural world, Jim’s legacy survives with the countless students, faculty, staff and friends he inspired during his tenure with MUIH. On behalf of the entire MUIH community, we send our thoughts and condolences to his wife Peggy, daughter Cissy, and son John.

 

Steven C. Combs, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Maryland University of Integrative Health

Condolences from MUIH Faculty

“When the Herbal Medicine program launched in 2002, we were thrilled to learn that Dr. Duke and the Green Farmacy Garden was, almost literally, in our backyard. From the beginning, Jim shared generously his immense knowledge of botany, phytochemistry, and folk medicine. He served for many years as distinguished lecturer in both the classroom and field but it was outdoors where he shone the most. Whether guiding students through the Green Farmacy Garden, sharing his favorite local plant walks, or accompanying the class on the annual field trip to an Ohio plant sanctuary, Jim’s love of plants and his inquisitive mind was unsurpassed. He will be missed.”

James Snow, M.A., RH(AHG)
Dean of Academic Affairs, MUIH
 

“Jim embodied much of what we aimed to convey to our students in the Herbal Medicine program: a sense of wonder and play, love for your discipline, and a thirst for the depth of knowledge to truly understand. Dr. Duke contributed to the field of herbal medicine in so many ways they are hard to imagine. His songs, humor, and incredible gardens will long outlive his time on earth.”

Bevin Clare, M.S., RH (AHG), CNS
Associate Professor and Program Manager, Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Herbalism, MUIH
President, American Herbalists Guild