About Shearlean Duke 2017-08-12T14:44:23+00:00

About Shearlean Duke

On February 13, 2011 the following obituary appeared in the Passings section of the obituaries page of the Los Angeles Times.

Shearlean Duke LA Times_adj_cx

Shearlean Duke
Former Times writer and editor

Shearlean Duke, 64, a former Los Angeles Times features writer and features editor in the Orange County edition who later became chairwoman of the journalism department at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. died of brain cancer Feb. 2 at her home in Bellingham.

Hired as reporter for the Orange County edition of The Times, in 1972, Duke was an award-winning feature writer for the old View section from 1974 to 1981.

She became the edition’s assistant city editor in charge of features in 1981 and its View and Calendar editor in 1982.

After she left the Times in 1984, Duke and her husband, Bob, spent more than a year sailing in the Gulf of California on their 35 foot cutter.

Returning to Newport Beach, they established a public relations business in Costa Mesa. Duke also wrote education and boating columns, as well as feature stories, for the Times‘ Orange County edition.

After earning a master’s degree at Chapman University in Orange, CA., when she was 50, Duke taught journalism at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.; and at Western Washington, where she established the journalism department’s public relations program.

Born June 21, 1946, in Copperhill, Tenn., Duke earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Tennessee Technological University in 1968. She worked at the Cookeville (Tenn.) Herald Citizen, the Houston Post, and the Orange County Register before joining The Times.



The family of Shearlean Duke, journalism professor and department chair 1999-2010, established the Shearlean Duke Scholarship for Public Relations to honor her memory. The scholarship was funded by Shearlean’s spouse, Robert, and 44 others who donated the initial $20,000 required to establish the fund, which awards one $1000 scholarship each year to a journalism a department major or pre-major.

Applicants must write an essay of no longer than 600 words on something they are passionate about.

The first scholarship was awarded in 2011, in the academic quarter following Shearlean’s death caused by glioblastoma brain cancer. Since then, the scholarship has grown to $25,000 and has been awarded each year, in person, by Robert Duke.

Plans are in place to sponsor another journalism scholarship dedicated to reporting on local healthcare issues.

The scholarship is administrated by the tax exempt Western Washington University Foundation. For more information contact Western Washington Foundation’s Donor Relations Director. To make a donation, simply write a check and mail it to the following address, noting in the memo space it is for Shearlean Duke Scholarship:

University Advancement
Western Washington University
516 High Street MS 9034
Bellingham, WA 98225