This is a biography of my grandfather. It comes from two sources. The first is an article from an Armed Forces newspaper clipping. Unfortunately, there is a continuation and I don’t have the second part, so there is going to be an abrupt end to that article. But I have a separate bio from a newsletter from the Tangley Oaks Educational Center, Duke’s last employer which appears to be an almost word for word reprint of the AFBAA article, and it has its own ending, so I’ll tack that onto the end. I will number my own footnotes and include them at the end.
Armed Forces Benefit & Aid Association Journal
August 1976, Volume 3, Number 24.
In days of old, men were bold
There’s an old line – “in days of old when men were bold…” which would apply to a new AFBAA Representative – Francis Smith “Duke” Dane. Here is the story of this most unique and worldly individual.
“Duke” Dane was born on July 8, 1908 in Lexington, Massachusetts. His father (1) was employed by the Hood Rubber Company and worked there for 48 years retiring as a Vice President. One of the three children in the family, Duke’s brother (2) is Dean of Classics at Bowdoin College and his sister (3) has been involved in religious work for many years.
As a 13 year old, Mr. Dane attended a Boys Camp and since he could out-scrap everyone in the tent he was given the title of “Duke of the Tent” and the name stuck.
In high school and college he participated in all sports and dramatics. As captain of his high school football team he played every minute of every game as Quarterback on offense and Linebacker on defense. His playing weight – 128 pounds. In college at Bowdoin he played football and hockey for 2 years. During summer vacations in high school Duke had his first job – selling with the Fuller Brush Company.
At age 12 Duke Dane went to sea as the first cabin boy on the maiden cruise of the schooner Bowdoin under commander Donald B MacMillan, an arctic explorer. Upon graduation from Loomis Prep in Windsor, Connecticut (high school) he again went to sea on the schooners Radio and Bowdoin and was on the MacMillan Expedition to the Arctic at age 19.
Following his return from the Arctic he worked his way from the East Coast to the west Coast and back on the Freighter Orleans as a seaman. This was before the dark days of maritime unions when hours were long and the food unspeakable.
Joins Byrd Expedition
In 1933, at the age of 25, Duke Dane joined the Byrd Expedition II in preparation for a trip to the Antarctic. He became head of the dog drivers and working 15 hours a day spent the summer of 1933 training 158 huskies and other drivers for the coming expedition. In October, 1933 they sailed from Boston on the Freighter Rupert with Duke doing double duty as a seaman and dog handler. In January, 1934, they arrived at Little America and off loaded the 54 members of the expedition along with the dogs and their supplies.
For one year the expedition remained in Antarctica. The Antarctic night last from May to October and conditions were unbelievably cruel. In all, Duke Dane and 6 other members skied over 3,000 miles while completing various missions before the winter night set in.
The expedition departed Little America in January, 1935 and had to sail through the roughest seas known to man. Winds in excess of 50 knots caused the ship to take 27 degree rolls through the pounding seas. Upon return to the United States, their ship was met by President Franklin Roosevelt who personally came to the dock to meet them. The Expedition members were sent to the Halls of Congress where they each received a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Duke does not talk about his medal, he feels he didn’t deserve it. But the Congress and the President disagreed so he accepted for his family.
Until World War II came along, Duke Dane had a varied career which included 12 years with Lederle Labs selling special products to Doctors, Veterinarians, Hospitals, Pharmacies etc. where he was involved with hiring, training, and working with men in the field, running periodic sales meetings and overseeing the office staff. As head of the Animal Health Department of Wyeth Labs, he called on dairy and poultry farmers, ranchers, feed lot operators, sheep and cattle men to provide training and conduct lectures. Duke has also had several years in Financial Planning – insurance and mutual funds.
World War II brought new adventures for Duke Dane. He joined the Army Transport Service and was immediate given the tough job as First Mate on a 100 foot schooner which sailed from San Pedro, California for Australia. The trip took 48 days and the discontentment of the crew made it a very rough crossing. After that trip, Duke served as Second Mate in the Merchant Marine on ships all over the South Pacific.
(This is the point of the continuation. The rest is from the Tangley Oaks newsletter “Educator News”, dated June 19, 1979)
When you add to all of this the fact that Duke is also a Kiwanian, a scout leader, sportsman, tennis and squash player, sails, camps, mountain climbs, does church work, gardening, acrobatics and expressive dancing, you know we’re talking about “one helluva man.” In his spare time, he also lectures before school and community groups and other organizations on his travels and incredible experiences with the Third Expedition. His pictures and slide presentations are considered priceless. We welcome you, Duke, to our organization. It’s a pleasure and privilege to have you break the ice with us with your first business during May; and we’re looking forward to many years of close association.
Retyped by Kyle Dane (grandson of Francis Smith “Duke” Dane II), March 7, 2010.
(1) Duke’s father was Francis Smith Dane I.
(2) Duke’s brother is Nathan Dane. Duke also attended Bowdoin, but did not graduate, much to his parent’s chagrin.
(3) Duke’s sister is Marcia Winter Anderson Dane (Aunt Marcia to most of our family).