In 1936, students Ed Swann and R.E.L. “Bob” Bearden, both D’38, pose for the camera with the School of Religion (now the divinity school) in the background. Swann, who served as an Army chaplain in World War II, died eight years later on Feb. 18, 1944, in a glider accident at Camp McCall, N.C.
Swann had reported to his fellow alumni earlier, “I am serving now as a Transport Chaplain and have just returned from a trip after many months’ absence from the States. I am enjoying my work very much and am doing the best I can with God’s help to keep the Christian religion strong in the minds of our soldiers. The influence of days spent at Duke gives strength and inspiration for going forward.”
Bearden enjoyed a long career as a Methodist pastor in Arkansas, and currently lives in Little Rock. The two came to Duke just as the school launched its alumni association. The association held its first meeting on June 3, 1935, in Duke Chapel and in February 1936 published the first issue of the Duke School of Religion Bulletin, a predecessor of today’s Divinity magazine. In it, Dean Elbert Russell issued greetings to the alumni and offered high hopes for the publication’s future:
“We expect that it will enable us to maintain in fuller measure than heretofore the relationship of personal knowledge and sympathetic understanding which existed so happily for us during the period of your residence in the School.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.