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A Brother's Legacy

Ed Swann & ClassmateEd.’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 University.

With sincerest appreciation and best wishes,
Fred Swann
President, American Guild of Organists

Remembering Maxie Oakley

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 fan herself.

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
Chaplain/Campus Pastor
Allegheny College
Meadville, Pa.

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) below.

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