Dr. James 'Red' Duke, once-familiar TV doctor, dead at 86

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HOUSTON (AP) — Dr. James "Red" Duke, a trauma surgeon who attended to Texas Gov. John Connally on the day of the Kennedy assassination before going on to become a familiar television doctor, died in Houston on Tuesday at age 86.

In a statement, Dr. Richard Andrassy, surgery department chairman at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, said Duke died of natural causes at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where he was on staff.

"He was with family at Memorial Hermann. He was not in pain. He will be missed very much by all of us at UT Medical School and Memorial Hermann," Andrassy said.

Duke treated Connally's wounds in November 1963, after the governor was shot while riding in the car in which President John F. Kennedy was killed. During the 1980s, Duke had a nationally syndicated medical segment in which he appeared in cowboy garb and with a bushy red mustache and spoke with a thick Texas drawl.

Duke, a native of the Texas city of Ennis, earned his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University and a divinity degree at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, before reconsidering his career choice and earning his medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

He joined the faculty of the 2-year-old University of Texas Medical School at Houston in 1972. In the mid-1970s, he founded the Life Flight air ambulance service in Houston.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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