Sound carries, and Sam’s has carried far for a long time. We heard him on West Campus almost every weekday for more than 50 years, even if we rarely saw him. As University Carilloneur, he played the Duke Chapel’s 50 bells from a console high in the tower almost every weekday at 5:00 p.m. for 15 minutes, with longer performances after services on Sunday. (Google it and you’ll see clips of how it’s done.)
But Sam wasn’t always invisible: those who frequented the Rare Books collection in Perkins Library benefitted from his long experience with the University’s holdings and above all his encyclopedic knowledge of Duke. Sam arrived on campus as an undergraduate in the fall of 1964, and to our good fortune, he never left. He played his last official concert on New Year’s Eve 2018. By order of the University Trustees, the carillon he played for so long is now rightly named in his honor. And so we’ll continue to hear the sound of a Duke icon.
Mark Evan Bonds is a professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editor's note: This profile is part of our annual initiative called The Chron15. We are highlighting 15 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.