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Seminary creates fund for Dukes’ recovery

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has established a fund to help Jimmy and Retia Dukes with recovery and rehabilitation costs from severe injuries sustained when they were struck by an automobile near the campus April 4.

Jimmy Dukes, professor of New Testament and Greek since 1984, serves as the director of theological education/distance learning for the Florida Baptist Convention. In an arrangement with the Florida Baptist Convention, he also serves as associate dean of the seminary’s Florida extension centers and director of the seminary’s Orlando hub. Retia was a longtime NOBTS staff member before they moved to Florida in 2007.

The couple faces a long, expensive recovery from their injuries. NOBTS President Chuck Kelley created the Jimmy and Retia Dukes Recovery Fund to offset the many rehabilitation costs that will not be covered by insurance. These include treatment costs as well as travel and lodging expenses incurred by the Dukes’ two sons, Erik and Jason, who are making frequent trips to New Orleans. Erik is a physician in Booneville, Miss. Jason is co-pastor of Westpoint Fellowship Church in Windermere, Fla.

“Many of us who have been blessed and helped by the Dukes’ ministry through the years and want to help,” Kelley said. “We know that the recovery will take months and they will be away from their home and family.”

“This fund will be for expenses not covered by insurance. It offers a way for any who want to help to be able to help in a way that greatly assists them and their family,” Kelley said.

Jimmy Dukes received treatment for multiple fractures and injuries, including two broken legs, a broken arm, broken ribs, a cracked vertebra and a collapsed lung. Retia suffered a brain hemorrhage in the accident and was in coma for three weeks.

As bad as things were for Jimmy, doctors and family members were most concerned about Retia’s coma. For three weeks she was unconscious. Family members and seminary administrators urged churches and individuals to pray diligently about her situation. On April 24 Retia awoke and responded to questions from doctors. Now the couple is braced for months of rehabilitation.

The Dukes recently were moved to separate metropolitan New Orleans hospitals to continue their recovery. Jimmy Dukes is at Ochsner Hospital in Elmwood, Retia is at West Jefferson Hospital in Marrero.

The driver of the SUV that struck the Dukes waited at the scene for the New Orleans Police Department to arrive. The case is still under review, but no charges have been filed to date.

Contributions to the fund for the Dukes may be made by calling 504-282-4455, ext. 3252, or sending gifts to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Office for Institutional Advancement, 3939 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126. Note “Dukes Fund” on checks. Online gifts may be given by selecting the “Click to Donate” tab at www.nobts.edu. Once in the online giving area, select the Jimmy and Retia Duke Recovery Fund before submitting a gift.

The president’s office at NOBTS will handle disbursements from the fund based on expense requests from the family. Records of the income and disbursements will be available to the NOBTS trustee board for review. Any remaining money in the fund after treatment and rehabilitation is complete will be used to establish the Jimmy and Retia Dukes Scholarship Fund.

The accident happened at dusk April 4. A vehicle traveling east on Gentilly Boulevard/Chef Menteur Highway struck the Dukes as they crossed the street from the seminary’s guest housing to the main campus. NOBTS Campus Police officers and witnesses contacted first responders immediately. Several New Orleans residents, who were on the seminary campus to vote in an election that evening, stopped to offer help as well.

The Dukes family is maintaining a Caring Bridge website with recovery updates for friends of the family. The site is a free, but requires registration: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jimmyandretiadukes.
Reported by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s public relations staff.

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