September 05, 2023


Rose Lee Duke

April 17, 1926 - August 30, 2023

John Duke and Mary “Lizzie” Bruns Duke welcomed Rosa (Rose) Lee Duke into the world on April 17, 1926, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She arrived after the birth of her big brother, Thomas James Duke, who the family affectionately called “Bill.” They were best friends. 

Rosa met Alexander Dexter, Sr. and the couple married in 1941. Shortly after tying the knot the newlyweds started a family to include four daughters: Johnnie, Mary, Glendia, and Alexandria, and two sons: Baby Bill (deceased) and Alexander, Jr.

The family moved around, in accordance with Alexander’s relocation assignments issued by the United States Army, and eventually settled in Mamaroneck, New York. Throughout the 1950’s, Rosa worked at the AVON factory in Rye, New York. She loved to socialize with neighbors and friends. Above all, Rosa loved to drink morning coffee with her dear friend, Ms. Ida. She lived a simple life with friends, family, and church centered at the core of her happiness.

In 1957, Rosa and Alexander ended their marriage. She started a new chapter of her life in Westbury, Long Island, New York. Rosa spent quality time with her grandchildren who visited during their summer vacations and weekends. The grandchildren loved to share time with their beloved “Nana.” They traveled to parades and roller skating at Eisenhower Park. Her open and honest conversations helped lay the foundation for managing self-care, personal hygiene, and social etiquette. She shared funny antidotes and memorable phrases to teach life lessons to include “…always keeping your purse clean.” Rosa took her grandchildren to church and kept hard candy in her pocketbook for them to eat during service. With the love and support of her special companion, Tinker Lord, the couple hosted festive basement parties and backyard barbeques that brought people together. 

Rosa attended New Life Baptist Church, and later joined Massapequa Tabernacle Church, during her years in Westbury, Long Island, New York. She served on the choir; worked as dedicated missionary; and evolved into a revered Mother of the Church. In fact, she helped raise the Pastor’s children and worked as the family nanny for many years. The robust church family added joy and purpose to her life. Rosa and Alexander, Jr. late relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1991) and settled in Bogalusa, Louisiana (1993). She expanded her church family, at Christ Way Ministries, and deepened her connection with God for the remainder of her days. In short, Rosa returned “home” where surviving cousins, childhood memories, and church family warmed her heart.

After 97 years of life, the Lord welcomed Rosa to her heavenly home on Thursday, August 30, 2023, during her stay at the Landmark Nursing Home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is survived by her daughters, Johnnie (Jimmy) King of Spring Hill, FL; Mary Louise Wright of Columbia, SC; and Alexandria Dubose of Kensington, MD. 

Rosa touched the lives of thirteen grandchildren: 

Wanda (Darin) Smithson, Andre King, Tamatha Brown, Latisha (Earl) Staten, Howard (Dwana) Wright, Jr., Kimberly (Sunday) Padonu, Dashea Brown, Ronton (Shawn) Johnson, Lakenya Johnson, Thomas Johnson, Willette (Gbolahan) Brown-Fatoyinbo, Nicole (Robert) James, and Alexander Johnson. 

Her legacy also includes a thriving lineage of twenty-six surviving great-grandchildren: Tiffany (Joshua) Morrisey, Jason Williams, VaQuan Wright, Le'shea Nunnery, Preston Hope, Janiyah Johnson, Torkwase Greene, Alize' Johnson, Kailyn Brown, Gary Kershaw, Gerald Johnson, Tajzay Turner, Kourtnie Kershaw, Jaden Johnson, Treasure-Rain Johnson, JaMya Billinger, Asata Blu Fatoyinbo, Jamal Billinger, Jaysahn Johnson, Azaria Johnson, Jobe Ade Fatoyinbo, Terell Billinger, Desire'e Staten, De'Shaun Staten, Tamia Billinger, and Kiara Padonu.

... And there's more! Rosa lived to see sixteen great-great grandchildren join the family: 

Anyist Hope, Jaylen Williams, Jason Williams, Jr., Zion Hope, Jada Hope, Kayvion Flowers-Johnson, Jaycee Nunnery, Ka'layah Johnson, Kingston Proctor, Onjai Hope, Ja'nyla Turner, Ahmarii Watkins, Carter Hope, X'zaviour Greenspan, Lay'lani Turner, and Wendy Greenspan.

Godchild and adored caregiver, Carolyn "Pee-Wee" Allen.    

Rosa Lee Duke is proceeded in death by her mother, Mary Bruns (d. 1956); father, John Duke (d. 1969); brother, Thomas James Duke (d. 1962); sons, Baby Bill (d. 1947) and Alexander, Jr. (d. 2016); beloved daughter, Glendia Dexter (d. 2019); special companion, Tinker Lord (d. YEAR); and great-granddaughters, Jennai Jennette (d. 2001) and Tiana Billinger (d. 2010).

Friends, extended family, and church family all celebrate her life. 

A visitation on Friday, September 8, 2023 from 11:00AM – 1:00PM followed by the funeral service at 1:00PM at Crain and Sons Funeral Home. Interment – Lee’s Creek Cemetery. 

Crain and Sons Funeral Home in Bogalusa are in charge of arrangements. 

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