Duke Flags Lowered: Former Trustee Chair Phillip Jackson Baugh Jr. Dies at Age 90

A former state legislator who became a national leader in horse breeding, Baugh was a champion for the Duke Health System

Phillip Jackson “Jack” Baugh Jr., a Duke alumnus and former chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees, died Sept. 10 at age 90.  

An accomplished business leader, former U.S. Air Force pilot, and former North Carolina state legislator, Jack Baugh served on the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1981-1993, including serving as chair from 1991-1993. His leadership was instrumental in strengthening the medical center during a period of significant changes in academic medicine, as Duke Health became one of the country’s first fully integrated academic health systems.

“Jack Baugh was a leader of great energy and imagination,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said. “He was an advocate for the medical center as the Duke University Health System was being formed. Today, Duke Health is a world-renowned provider of outstanding clinical care, research and medical education—thanks in no small part to Jack Baugh’s leadership and vision.”

“In a word, Jack was a gentleman,” said John J. Piva, who was Duke's senior vice president for alumni affairs and development from 1982 to 2004. “He was the most loyal and supportive friend. Duke is a better place because he chose to lead. Kathy and I share his loss with his family and the university he loved.”

Baugh was born February 20, 1932, in Charlotte. After attending N.C. State University for two years, Baugh transferred to Duke, where he was active in the Duke Players student theater group and earned Dean’s List status. Baugh earned his AB degree in psychology from Duke in 1954 and completed the pre-med requirements. Having been in Duke’s Air Force ROTC program as an undergraduate, upon graduation Baugh was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and served for two years as a jet fighter pilot.

Baugh served in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly, as a member of the House of Representatives from Mecklenburg County, 1966-68, and as a senator from 1971-73.

He began his career in the family cotton business and built several mills of his own. In 1964 he merged three family enterprises into P. J. Baugh Industries, of which he became president and CEO.

A loyal Duke alumnus, Baugh served the university in many leadership roles over the years. He served on the Board of Visitors for both the Fuqua School of Business and the Pratt School of Engineering. He also served on the Engineering Development Committee, the Engineering Dean’s Council, and the President’s Associates, and chaired the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Council. From 1971-72 he was the president of the Duke University National Council, which later became the Duke Alumni Association. As a trustee, he chaired the Institutional Advancement Committee.

Baugh also directed significant philanthropy to Duke. The Phillip Jackson Baugh Fellowship, established in 1986 to promote interest and careers in aging and human development, has supported dozens of Duke Ph.D. students in cultural anthropology, economics, evolutionary anthropology, psychology and neuroscience, and sociology. Baugh also provided generous support for junior faculty development in the Pratt School of Engineering as well as support for the Libraries, the Davison Club, and Duke Chapel. He received the Honorary Alumnus Award from the Duke University School of Medicine in 2003.

“Jack Baugh was a remarkable leader with wide-ranging interests and passions,” Laurene Sperling, chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees. “We’re grateful for his lifelong love for Duke and his extraordinary dedication to Duke. We send our deepest condolences to the Baugh family.”

An avid equestrian, Baugh developed an interest in horse breeding. He owned a farm in Charlotte but decided in 1971 to move to Kentucky, where he already owned the 862-acre Almahurst Farm. In 1972, Almahurst was the breeder of two world champions. Baugh served as president of the American Trotting Association and served on the Kentucky Harness Racing Commission.

In Kentucky, Baugh was associated with Transylvania University in Lexington, becoming elected to the Board of Curators and named chair in 1974. Transylvania University later honored Baugh with an honorary degree.

A pilot and a model aircraft enthusiast, Baugh was a supporter and life member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Baugh was interviewed in 2015 as part of the Veterans History Project sponsored by the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library. The interview can be viewed on YouTube.

A full obituary and memorial information may be found online.