A Life Lived: Barbara Duke’s life was marked by her service to God, church, and others

Published 11:37 am Tuesday, December 19, 2023

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Pastor Rick Warren is credited with saying: “The only way you can serve God is by serving other people.”
Barbara Duke’s life was marked by her service to others. For almost 50 years she worked as a certified nursing assistant at both the old Carter County Memorial Hospital and Sycamore Shoals Hospital. “She loved her job and was really good at what she did. She took really good care of her patients,” said her daughter, Desiree, who noted that when she bathed patients she left a trail of baby powder. “She made sure they were clean and smelled good.”
Being a CNA was Barbara’s life work as she began working soon after high school. “She took a CNA class, and through the years took several refresher courses,” said Desiree.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, Benny. The couple had been married almost 50 years when he died.
She is also the mother of another daughter, Melissa.
In addition to serving her patients, Barbara enjoyed mission work. For several years she went on mission trips with Elizabethton First Baptist Church and also accompanied volunteers from Hampton First Baptist Church to Boone, N.C., to work in the Good Samaritan Shoe Box Ministry. “She had a heart for missions and helping others,” said Desiree.
Barbara loved her church, Harmony Baptist, and was very active in its ministry. For a number of years when her daughters were growing up, Barbara was active in the church’s youth ministry. Later she served as youth director and WMU director.
“Mom enjoyed people and she had a heart for service. If she could be of help to someone, it made her day,” said Desiree. “She never did a lot of things for herself, however, she did enjoy reading and was a member of the Litwits Book Club at the Elizabethton Carter County Public Library. She also enjoyed shopping and one of her places to shop was at Rose’s in Newland, N.C. She didn’t buy much. She just liked to look around.”
Desiree also noted that her mother enjoyed going to Cracker Barrel and eating chicken and dumplings. “She didn’t have to look at a menu…it was always chicken and dumplings, okra and fried apples,” Barbara’s daughter said with laughter.
Barbara wasn’t one for vacations, but she enjoyed day trips. “She was a big Elvis fan and enjoyed her trips to the casino at Cherokee. She loved her cats and enjoyed doing things with friends, especially her church friends,” Desiree shared.
“My mother was such a kind lady. She touched the hearts of many, and she enjoyed laughing. Her favorite thing was to do for others. Mom left an impact on everyone she met,” said Desiree.
For the past few years, Barbara had been on dialysis, but she didn’t let it defeat her. “After dialysis, she would usually take a nap and get up and go,” said Desiree. “But in the end, she got an infection, and she couldn’t get over it.”
Katharine Drexel, American philanthropist, once said, “If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.”
Certainly, Barbara Duke’s greatest joys came in serving others and God.
Barbara Duke died December 11 and was laid to rest December 16 in the Emmert Cemetery.

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