Published by admin on 08 Feb 2013 at 01:06 am
with frank addington, jr.
The coolest friend I never met…
My phone would ring. It may 10am or 10pm. “Hey Pancho….” a voice would say. From that point the conversation could go 100 different directions. Tony Dukes was like that. He may want to brag on some tacos he and Milo (Dave Milam) had just eaten, tell me his latest tall tale, or anything under the sun. You never knew with Tony where the conversation was going.
I can’t remember just how Tony Dukes and I became friends. It seemed to happen all at once about ten or more years ago. He and I would talk on the phone and we had a lot of common friends. Ted Nugent was the main friend we shared but there were many more, including Jesse and Ginger Moorehead. Everyone seemed to know Tony. He was a wheeler dealer and always working on a deal, a trade, a hunt. He had gotten passionate about taking wounded warriors bowhunting upon their return from war. He had a big heart and was always soliciting gear for these hunts. He wrote articles and also appeared on a lot of hunting videos. He was a good promoter and was always thinking of ways to help wounded warriors. That became his passion. That and archery. He loved them both, and he loved God.
He told me lots of stories over the years about famous people. You see Tony was a bass player. Evidently a talented bass player who had shared a stage with some of the 70’s and 80’s biggest names in the rock and roll world. He collected, bought and sold guitars and loved to play music. He is known as one of the last of the real blues players in Texas and I believe was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. Tony was weak when we first talked. As a matter of fact he was terminally ill the entire time I knew him. Talking with one friend today he estimated Tony had been terminally ill more than 12 years. But Tony survived and always seemed to beat death. So often that his military friends started calling him old “Hard to Kill”. Tony took pride in that.
Tony was the kind of guy that would do favors for you “just because.” He felt I should meet Dave Milam, Toby Keith’s road manager and one of Tony’s closest friends. So Tony stepped in and made sure Milo and I met. This lead to a great friendship and I have enjoyed this friendship for almost ten years now. Every time Tony and I talked we usually got around to chatting about Milo.
I encouraged Tony to bowhunt for bear with Danny Dyer in New Brunswick, Canada. Danny really liked Tony and put Tony in his next season’s hunting brochure. I also introduced Tony to my pal Butch Thompson at King Ranch via email/telephone and Butch was honored to help a wounded warrior with a hunt. Although I got tickled at Tony who called me upset because the guides at King stayed with him, he couldn’t just go hunting on his own. I was laughing telling him no one got to just roam around the 825,000 acre ranch, they had rules and that was one of them. You don’t just go roaming around that ranch.
Tony had a passion for archery. I knew him to use a compound but he also took game with traditional equipment from time to time. Tony felt the late bowhunter Bill Negley belonged in the Archery Hall of Fame. Negley took the African Big Five and was a legend in Texas with his bow and arrow. The Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio features a prominant display on Negley. Tony also told me a story about making the wooden arrows used in the movie Lonesome Dove. Tony always amazed me with his stories and who he knew and where he’d been. He was never boring, that’s for sure.
Tony would call out of the blue and hand the phone to a soldier and tell me to say howdy to them. He would also take them to WHATABURGER and tell them Addington had suggested it. He was always up to something. He loved his friends, good times and the Lord. He was passionate about our troops. He also was loyal to all of his friends and often sent gifts to my son Gus from him. Just because. He had turned his life around from his wilder rock and roll days.
I got a call from Tony about a month ago. Seems he was dying. He had made a list of a few folks he wanted to chat with and was basically calling us all. I brushed it off because, after all, he’d been dying every time I talked to him.I somehow expected Tony to just keep beating death like he had a dozen times or more it seemed. We had a great conversation and shared a laugh or two. He really liked my dad and asked about him. I’d hooked Pop and Tony up and they shared some time at an archery event. It was a good visit and I was sure we’d talk again soon. When I hung up though I realized that call was different. Tony’s tone was different. He was in a hurry. He kept the subject light and cheerful. Looking back, maybe I knew it would be the last call but wouldn’t accept that.
Sadly that would be the last time I’d ever hear Tony’s voice. I got an email this morning from Dave Milam that Antonio was gone. Ole “Hard to Kill” went to Heaven around 5 PM on January 7, 2013. His physical pain and suffering here on earth done, he’s now up there with the other archery legends who went before him. If he has access to a bass guitar I’ll gaurantee he’s playing music, telling jokes and making people laugh. And of course shooting a bow and arrow.
News of Antonio’s death saddened me for two reasons. First, I’d not share anymore crazy phone calls with him. Second, I’d never get meet Tony Dukes in person. You see, Tony and I had never once met face to face. Although he had hung out with my dad, hunted with friends of mine, and we shared lots of mutual friends, I never once got to shake his hand. I called Dave (Milo) today and told him that fact and he was shocked. He didn’t know Tony and I had never met face to face. Tony was perhaps the coolest friend I’d never met.
So long Antonio, your spirit, your sense of humor, your patriotism, your passion for archery and archers, your laugh and your bravery will be missed. I am sure Milo will eat some good tacos for you soon, Ted Nugent will shoot an animal of some kind, and I’ll bust a few baby aspirin from mid air for you amigo. Ted Nugent, Milo, and I join a lot of other people who will miss you but are glad you suffer no more. Your work here is done. Godspeed, and as Theo often says, “In the wind…”
You can visit Tony Duke’s Memorial site at: http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/dukes/MemorialSite.aspx
The photo is from Dave Milam. That’s my first STRAIGHT SHOT Column for 2013. As always, Adios and God Bless.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.