Ed.’s Note: The following message was e-mailed to
David Arcus, organist for both Duke Chapel and Duke
Divinity School, who offered to share it with our readers.
The inside cover of the Winter 2004 issue of the
Divinity magazine has a photo of my brother, Ed Swann,
when he was a student in the old School of Religion.
(He’s the one on the left.) At some point during his time
there, there was a period when there was no regular
chapel organist and he substituted on occasion. I don’t
remember all about the situation—for I was only about
7 years old at time.
But I sat on the Chapel’s Aeolian organ bench with him
one day when he played a service, and that, as much as
anything, made me want to be an organist ... which, at
this late date, may help explain my passionate interest in
music at Duke Chapel and in the organ programs at Duke
With sincerest appreciation and best wishes,
President, American Guild of Organists
While the name Maxie Oakley will not be found in a
list of alumni or former employees, Maxie was linked to
the divinity school in a very real way.
For over 30 years, she rented an apartment in her home
at 1210 Vickers Avenue exclusively to divinity school students.
I was one of those students, from 1976-1979.
Maxie provided an apartment, her motherly wisdom and
humor, surprise southern breakfasts, and a place in front
of her TV for Duke basketball fans, as she was an avid
At least two divinity school students, sometimes three,
spent their hours off-campus in the warm and loving
home of Maxie Oakley. She lived to be 96 years of age,
and only stopped renting her apartment a few years ago.
I recently learned of Maxie’s death on Oct. 17, 2003,
and sincerely hope that others will join me in celebrating
her memory. She touched many lives at the divinity
school over three decades. My life was forever changed,
for the better, for having Maxie come into it.
John Patrick Colatch D’79
We encourage readers to share their memories of
Maxie Oakley, as well as others who provided Christian
hospitality for them during their student days here. Send
us your reflections by e-mail or post to the address(es)