Behind the Article on William ‘Sonny’ Duke

William ‘Sonny’ Duke

When I received an e-mail from Alvah Beander that Sonny Duke had died, I did not know anything about Sonny until Alvah told me. I started inquiring about Sonny from my Elderly Advisors. After talking to my advisors, I knew I had to write about Sonny. I contacted his cousin, William “Bill” Gordon and Sonny’s daughter, Wanda Duke Kyler.

As I was researching and writing the article on Sonny, I thought to myself how many African Americans in Alexandria did not know Sonny. Sonny’s life as a businessperson was exceptional and an inspiration to individuals who want to embark on their own business, especially for African Americans.

Through the research and interviews with his cousin and daughter, I was able to reveal Sonny’s passion for being the best businessperson he could be. He valued his customers and he strived to deliver his customers’ clothes within 24 hours. He dressed for success and he rolled up his sleeves to do their clothes even when he had a staff to do the work.

Sonny worked long hours even when his health was failing. He was truly dedicated to making his customers satisfied, which result in his business being successful. His customers were in Alexandria and in Fairfax, Virginia. Sonny’s success really came from his parents that groomed him to be a businessperson. He worked beside his parents in their business starting at the age of thirteen. By the time he was eighteen, his parents made him a manager at their drycleaners.

The life of Sonny is an example of the young learning from their elders. Sonny was good in listening and learning from his elders because his life was a testimony to what he accomplished by learning from them.

You can read Sonny’s story in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper dated February 3, 2021 on page 6, at

Author: cmb12

Char McCargo-Bah is the owner/founder of FindingthingsforU, LLC. She is a professional genealogist, researcher consultant, lecturer, teacher and author coach. She is the author of two books and you can find those books on by putting search on her name. She became a Living Legend in Alexandria, Virginia in 2014.

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