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Mary DBT Semans Remembered at Duke Chapel

Duke University

The Duke family and hundreds of their closest friends and supporters filled Duke Chapel yesterday in Durham to say good-bye to Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.   Duke President Richard Brodhead described Semans as the university’s principal link to Duke’s founding generation.  Leoneda Inge produced this audio postcard from Semans’ funeral.

Music performer:  The Ciompi Quartet

The Rev. Dennis Campbell:  When Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans was born Duke University was no more than a twinkle in her great uncle’s eye.”

Richard Brodhead:  Pardon me if I say, at this time, Mary’s name was actually not as well known to me as Coach K’s was.   And from this brief account, this brief introduction, what was I expecting to meet.  I was expecting to meet a grande dame, or perhaps even a kind of local royalty.  Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans. Mere commoners do not have five names.

Music performer:  The Durham Carolers

Gov. Jim Hunt:  We as governors needed to validate a progressive initiative, to build North Carolina. There was no better way than to say, Mary Semans is for it.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell:  While our hearts grieve for the loss of a compassionate and caring human being, we rejoice in knowing that she left an indelible mark on Durham that will forever shine.  And frankly, I believe she is one of the persons responsible for making Durham a community that has been admired throughout the state, the nation and the world.

Music performer:  The Duke Chapel Choir, The Duke Chorale, The Duke Vespers Ensemble, The Choral Society of Durham

Thomas Kenan III:  My greatest joy was following in her footsteps working in support of an institution that she helped establish, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Music performer:   UNC School of the Arts

Prof. Joel Fleishman:  How Mary did all she did while at the same time raising and nurturing seven children is a miracle in itself.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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