Music by the O'Neill Brothers


Herbert "Duke" Williams

October 14, 1936 ~ July 4, 2018 (age 81)

Herbert Williams, better known as “Duke,” was born October 14, 1936 to Elisha and Mary Williams in Brooklyn, New York, joined our Heavenly Father on July 4, 2018 after battling numerous health issues. This renaissance man said that he accomplished everything he set out to do. He was an accomplished Master Chef, earning a diploma from a New York Vocational School. He then started his own catering company. 

Duke was a Martial Arts Master. He traveled to Tokyo, Japan to train in Judo for the 1964 Olympics. He went by boat for 23 days and was sick for 17 of them. He made sure to fly home. Duke earned his Black belt in Judo in 1961 and his Black belt in Kendo and was told that he was one of the first African Americans to be recognized in both the Japanese and United States federations. 

Duke was a gifted self-taught musician. He lived music. He said his first love was the violin and the most challenging for him to master. Nonetheless, he still owned and loved that instrument. His second love was the flute. Duke had a remarkable collection of flutes and piccolos dating back over a century. His third love, and the one that he is most known for, was percussion. Duke bought his first set of brass timbales in 1949. His daughter still plays on them. Duke was teaching his daughter congas at age five, and timbales by age seven. Those who knew Duke, knew of the weekly jam sessions that would occur at his home in Aurora, Colorado. All were welcomed. He was a member of several bands: The Word, The Sha-Doos, The Sleeping Relative, and most recently, the duo of Knee Deep. His musical passion was so strong, that he named the spirit of the music within him Cal-Gairra. 

Duke retired early from the Kroger Company in 1994 to pursue his creative ideas. Duke was a man of powerful words. Many of his quotes are carried as words to live by. Duke designed a line of neck wear, made cologne, and of course, produced the most exquisite wine the world would ever know. 

Duke is survived by his adoring daughter, Dr. Yvette Williams, his remarkable twin granddaughters, Katana Williams and Kyetra Williams, son, Inyata Williams, and a host of wonderful family and friends. Funeral service will be held 12 noon Saturday, July 14, 2018 at the House of Wheat Funeral Home, Inc., 2107 N. Gettysburg Ave. Rev. Joe Whitt officiating. Visitation 8:30 am until time of service. Family will receive friends one hour prior to service. In lieu of flowers and food, please consider a contribution to the 501c3 nonprofit organization Muevelo Cares Inc. to help fund “The Duke Williams Music Scholarship.” Muevelo Cares Inc. attn: Dr. Yvette Williams, PO Box 292348, Kettering OH 45429-9998

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