Maloney statement on passing of Robin Chandler Duke

Feb 10, 2016
Press Release

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today released the following statement on the passing of Robin Chandler Duke:

“America lost a distinguished citizen on February 6, 2016. She was both a dear friend and an inspiration to me professionally.

“Ambassador Duke did it on her own. After arriving in Manhattan from Baltimore at the age of fifteen, she talked her way into a sales position at the former Best & Company by not revealing her true age. She became one of the earliest commodity traders on Wall Street buying sugar for Pepsi Cola. At one point, then CEO of Pepsi Cola, Don Kendall, asked, ‘who is this person negotiating such terrific prices for us on sugar?’ Kendall was surprised to find out it was a young woman, and immediately hired her on the spot. When Pepsi wanted to expand into Africa, Robin came up with the idea to hire Louis Armstrong and his band to promote Pepsi on a tour through African nations. Before embarking on the tour, Robin asked of Armstrong, ‘Please Mr. Armstrong, make this tour a success; my job is on the line.’ The legendary trumpeter turned to his band and said, ‘You fellas are going to behave on this tour, and not let this nice lady down.’ The Armstrong Band African tour for Pepsi was a huge success.

“Robin met and married Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke. So began a career as a diplomat's wife, and mother, with postings in three countries. It was on these assignments that Robin witnessed the problems of population control, lack of family planning in poorer countries, and the lack of equal rights for women; these became her causes for the remaining decades of her life. Robin became the Chairwoman of NARAL, and was a tireless crusader for a woman's right to choose. President Clinton wisely appointed her as his US Ambassador to Norway, and she excelled in that capacity.

“I send my condolences to the Duke and Lynn children. Robin was a true friend to me from my early days on the New York City Council, and throughout my career in Congress. She is now reunited with her beloved Angie.”