Maud Banks Duke, 91, of Vail and Littleton, died July 15 surrounded by her family.
She was born July 12, 1922, in Newport, R.I., and grew up in New York City and Far Hills, N.J. She attended the Chapin School in New York and graduated with a degree in zoology from Vassar College in 1944. During World War II, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and served overseas in India. While in India, she flew the “hump” from India to China.
Always adventuresome, following the war, she and a college classmate and fellow WAC headed west and ended up in Aspen in 1946, where they founded the Aspen Country Store. She was an avid skier, and won the Roch Cup, now America’s Downhill, in 1948. That same year, she competed in and placed second in the North America Downhill Cup.
In 1949, she married H. Benjamin Duke Jr., a 10th Mountain Division veteran and, later, longtime board member of Vail Associates. She settled in Littleton, the place she called home until her death. An enthusiastic and tireless sportswoman, she was a ranked golfer and tennis player in Colorado during the 1950s. She continued to ski and play tennis well into her 80s. She led her family and friends on countless worldwide adventures over the years, including many hiking and river running trips throughout Colorado, Utah and Arizona. She was a committed conservationist, working hard to protect wild lands throughout the West and Southwest. This was best illustrated when she placed a conservation easement on her beloved Highline Farm, in the heart of Greenwood Village, thereby protecting it from development in perpetuity.
She is survived by four sons: James L. Duke (Meg), H. Benjamin Duke III (Laurie), Lester P. Duke (Vivi) and Charles B. Duke (Lisa); and 12 grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, H. Benjamin Duke Jr., and a son, Peter W. Duke.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions go to the Denver Zoological Foundation, 2300 Steele St., Denver, CO 80205, or the Denver Dumb Friends League, 2080 S. Quebec St., Denver, CO 80231.