We lost another one of our beloved classmates, Pony Duke, last October. The following obituary was written by Pony’s oldest son, George. Pony and his sons loved the outdoors and the mountains of Montana and Wyoming. At the time of his death, Pony was the oldest living member of the prominent Duke family. His mother, an accomplished equestrian, nicknamed him Pony at an early age which he fondly kept since he also loved horses. Pony majored in English and graduated from Duke University in 1959. His presence will be deeply missed.
Angier St. George Biddle ‘Pony’ Duke
Pony was born in New York City on Nov. 5, 1937, at City Hospital, the only son of Angier Biddle Duke and Priscilla St. George. He went to the happy hunting grounds on Oct. 8, 2014, as the oldest living descendant of Washington Duke (endower and namesake of Duke University). He was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s third cousin and a direct descendant of St. George, the patron saint of England.
He spent the first 18 years of his life divided equally between the shores of Long Island in spring and winter and the Flying H ranch at the head of the Shoshone River in northwest Wyoming, which his parents owned in the ’40s and ’50s. It was there on mountain pack trips and at summer square dances that he developed his love of the mountains, the West and the outdoors.
Pony had a wild and successful career on Wall Street during the big bull market of the ’60s before moving his children out to Cody, Wyo., in 1967, so they too could grow up there. From that time until he moved to North Carolina briefly in the ’80s, he was a famous and colorful elk hunting guide on the upper Greybull river and surrounding valleys.
In 1971, he met the love of his life, Mary Ellen Haga, who became his wife in 1973 to the present day, his soul mate and darling companion.
Upon his return to the West in Montana in 1987, he embarked on a successful business career in the sale of fine arts, aerospace design and ultimately the energy business, specifically oil and gas exploration and production.
He particularly loved bird hunting in the latter half of his life and good bird dogs. He gave up big-game hunting but loved to fish in the mountains and on his stretch of the Stillwater River. Breakfasts at the Railside diner followed by pheasant hunts around Broadview and Lavina were mandatory on fall weekends. Once he purchased the ranch near Edgar, the action moved to the Clark’s fork of the Yellowstone River and jolly dinners at the Edgar Bar. Pheasants feared him and trout respected him, and above all else he wanted to be remembered as a hunter, sportsman and outdoorsman.
He is survived by his loving wife, Mary Ellen; and his boys, Ben (Tatyanna) and George; brothers, Biddle Duke and Dario Duke; sisters, Katharine Selznick and Marilu Duke Cluett; as well as his grandchildren, Maud, Leo, Lucy, Nellie and Boris; and a whole lot of horses, especially Bucky and Muffin, and a rather large black Labrador retriever named Fred.