James Duke Biddle Trent Semans
10 Dec. 1957—17 Dec. 2018
Death loves a shining mark.— Edward Young (1683-1765)
James Semans, 61, of Chapel Hill died Monday morning.
James was the husband of Margaret W. Rich; son of the late Dr. James Hustead Semans and Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans of Durham: and great-grandson of Benjamin Duke.
He attended grammar school at Durham Academy and is a graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. After a stint at Oberlin College, James took some accounting courses at NYU and went to work.
Most notably James worked to restore the Duke family home, built in 1899, at 1009 Fifth Ave. in New York City, until it was sold in 2006. For their efforts, James and his mother were presented with the 1985 Restoration Award by the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts. The award was for: “Outstanding restoration of a family residence by the descendants of the original owner, thus ensuring the survival of a significant structure which is part of Fifth Avenue’s past.”
In the early eighties, James came home to Durham to assist with the care of his mother’s historic property in Forest Hills, as well as to serve on the board of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation beginning in 1992. For the past 30 years he has also served on the Duke-Semans Fine Arts Foundation and the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation.
James is predeceased by his sister, Jenny Koortbojian, and survived by his sisters: Beth Semans Hubbard and her husband, Michael, of Los Angeles, California; Mary Trent Jones and her husband, Jim, of Abingdon, Virginia; Sarah Trent Harris of Charlotte, North Carolina; Dr. Rebecca Trent Kirkland and her husband, Dr. John Kirkland, of Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Hood River, Oregon; and Barbara Trent Kimbrell and her husband Mac, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. He was also a devoted stepfather to Gibson Rich, of Hillsborough, North Carolina and Mary Hill, of Asheville, North Carolina as well as a true friend to a wide range of people throughout the community.
A memorial service will be held at Duke Chapel Tuesday, 15 January 2019, at 2:00 pm.
Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in James’s memory may be made to the charity or the Democrat of your choice.
The Semans family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com – select obituaries.