On June 17, 1982, Wichita County hired teenager David Duke as a jailer… make that John David Duke.
Since about the sixth grade, he’s gone by just David, even though, and yes he’s aware of the eyebrows he gets sharing a name with the infamous David Duke.
“[I have] no association with him, not the same beliefs with him. And I just flat think he’s nuts,” Sheriff Duke said.
Plus, Duke was named after John and David of the Bible. He said his faith has played a major role in his life.
“Jesus Christ has been next to me on more occasions; he’s probably saved my life,” Duke said.
Duke is proud of what he’s accomplished in law enforcement, especially when he speaks with past offenders who’ve made major life changes, after Duke arrested them.
“You treated me like a human being. No one else ever did that,” Duke said, referring to what he’s heard from several former inmates.
While many see the sheriff’s position as mostly administrative and as a desk job, that’s never been the case with Duke, who has said he has to be out with his deputies, where the action is; that way, he knows what’s going on.
Wichita County Community Services Deputy Melvin Joyner, who’s known Duke since he was in his teens, said Duke always had a positive attitude and knew the future sheriff would have a great career.
“It’s just great to have a sheriff like that, who cares about this community, who wants the community involved in every aspect,” Joyner said.
Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom has also known Duke for a long time and says he’s done an excellent job. And while some want to retire as soon as they can, Gossom said that’s up to the individual.
“If you lose interest in what you’re doing, whether you’re a newscaster or a sheriff, it shows. Sheriff Duke hasn’t lost his enthusiasm,” Gossom said.
“I’m very honored to be the sheriff,” Duke said.
An honor, reputation and career he continues to cherish.