Community gathers to remember Dubay

For students and faculty alike, Roger Dubay, the former general manager of Sanford Deli, provided more than a cup of coffee or a sandwich in between classes. With an infectious smile and remarkable wit, Dubay taught valuable lessons that left a lasting impact on the Duke community.

Last Friday, a memorial service was held in honor of Dubay in the Sanford School of Public Policy. Dubay, who died suddenly at age 50 of natural causes this June, developed close relationships with many students, faculty and alumni who in return gathered to commemorate Dubay’s meaningful contributions to the University.

“Roger changed the world one person at a time,” junior Sanjay Kishore said. “He was the most important professor I ever had at Duke.”

The service began with an emotional address from Joey Landry, current manager of Sanford Deli, followed by a reading of scripture and stories from students, friends and family about Dubay’s seven years working at the Sanford Deli.

Senior Braveen Ragunanthan said aside from his parents, Dubay knew him the best and was like a second father to him. Meeting Dubay on his first day at Duke, Ragunathan said it was always apparent that Dubay cared about each individual student and their unique story. Rather than treat everyone who came to the deli as just another customer, Dubay had a deep interest in getting to know everyone who frequented his shop.

“He understood people,” Ragunanthan said. “He knew your name, your order, and when you had your exams.”

Shelly Stonecipher, associate director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, also met Dubay on her first day at Duke and he quickly became a defining part of her day to day life.

“He wouldn’t let me just get my coffee,” she said. “He instead talked to me and made me feel welcome. From the first cup of coffee, Roger has taught me about the importance of community.”

Nina Woolley, a senior, spoke about how Dubay had changed her and inspired her to be more proactive about reaching out to people.

“I now try to connect with people I wouldn’t necessarily have before because of my friendship with Roger,” she said.

According to friends, Dubay taught students and faculty that sometimes the most important lessons can be found outside of the classroom. And those who were close to him agreed that what they would miss most about Dubay was how effortlessly he was able to brighten their days.

“When people look forward to seeing you, when it’s their favorite part of the day, you know you have lived a good life,” Kishore said.

Ragunanthan said the service provided a sense of closure for the many people who were close to Dubay.

“We all really needed this,” he said. “We needed to talk about Roger and to remember him.”

Ending the service with a closing eulogy and prayers, Landry said the mixture of laughter and tears during the service was a testament to how loved Dubay was by the entire Duke community. Though the Sanford Deli will never be quite the same without Dubay and his irreplaceable lessons, it is clear that Dubay’s legacy will live on through the many people he inspired.

“Roger loved Duke,” Landry said. “And Duke loved him back.”


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