David R. Dukes passed away on December 2, 2020, at the age of 76 in Fullerton, California after a five month fight with COVID-19.
David was born February 10, 1944, in Fort Meyers, Fla. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism. After college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving for three years and achieving the rank of Captain. He received numerous decorations for his combat service in Vietnam, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
After Vietnam, David married Samara (Sammy) Kennedy in 1970. The couple followed David’s successful business career around the country, living in Taylorville, Illinois, Atlanta, and Orange County, California. After over 20 years of marriage and grieving the loss of Sammy to cancer, David met Laura Hanson Manassero at the Make-A-Wish Foundation and married soon after in 1995. The couple had daughter Savannah in 1997.
Dukes spent 19 years in the personal computer industry. After nine years on the reseller and franchising side, Dukes joined Ingram Micro, the world’s largest distributor of technology products and services, where he served in numerous executive roles including President, COO, and Co-Chairman. He also served as Chairman of the UCI CEO RoundTable on numerous corporate boards including SRS Labs. Dukes was awarded the prestigious University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medal in 1996. During his retirement, Dukes has also owned two restaurants in southern California. David is remembered by business associates for his leadership, fairness, kindness, and affability.
Dukes served on numerous non-profit boards related to children, education, and healthcare including America’s Promise Alliance and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He retired in 2014 as President of the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing, a nonprofit that awards scholarships to deserving students from difficult life circumstances and prepares them for success in high school and college. Most recently he served many years on the board of Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC), including several years as Chairman where he helped advance CHOC as one of the leading children’s hospitals in the country.
David enjoyed a good conversation and always made sure to capture the moment with a photo. He will be remembered for his infectious love for the Lord, positive attitude, service to others, and being a true southern gentleman. David overcame many challenges throughout his lifetime and never complained. He always appreciated the small things in life and exemplified humility.
David is survived by wife Laura Dukes, daughter Savannah Dukes (fiance Austin Leonard), stepchildren Samantha Manassero, Carly (Evan) Kneubuhl, and Jeff (Jenn) Manassero and grandchildren Jack and Charlotte, son John Dukes and grandchildren Morgan and Draegan, grandson Sebastian Pearson, brother Carl (Priscilla) Dukes, sister Darlene (Jim) Hay, and numerous additional members of the Dukes, Kennedy, and Hanson families.
David is preceded in death by parents John and Donnie Dukes, brother Darryl Dukes, and first wife Sammy Kennedy Dukes.
David will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A memorial service will be held in Orange County, California in 2021 when it is possible to hold a gathering large enough to include all of those who loved David and whose lives he impacted.