By Mark Ambrogi
Tom Duke will always have a soft spot in his heart for David Letterman, with good reason.
His late father Bill Duke, a former Carmel High School principal, made a couple appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman.
It all started when Letterman was conducting a search for a look-alike to visit his mother, Dorothy Mengering, in Carmel on Mother’s Day since he could be there.
Letterman’s older sister Jan Millholland suggested to a Letterman producer that Duke, who she worked with in Carmel, looked a lot like her brother.
“His sister said you don’t need to do a search we have a guy right here in Carmel who looks just like David,” Duke said.
Letterman thought it was a great idea and talked to his mother on the show as Duke visited her
“Dad came in and gave her a hug and gave her a Happy Mother’s Day cake,” Duke said.
The next year in 2001 he invited Duke to do it again. Bill Duke had developed throat cancer in 1999 and was actually under treatment when he made those appearances.
“When (Letterman) caught wind my dad was sick, he flew him out to meet him,” Duke said. “Dad got to meet Dave and be at the show.”
Bill Duke, who had retired as Carmel principal in 2002, died at age 58 on Aug. 30, 2003.
“When dad passed away he sent the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a personalized card that was signed your friend David Letterman and how sorry he was to hear of our loss, writing he was a ‘great man and great friend to our family,’” Duke said.
In 2000, Bill Duke was named Indiana Association of School Principals’ Secondary Principal of the Year.
Tom Duke, a 1999 CHS graduate, lives in Carmel with wife Melissa, who is a cheerleading coach at CHS. Letterman, an Indianapolis native, concluded his long-running talk show on May 20.