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J. Samuel Hammond dead at 73

March 12, 2021
J. Samuel Hammond
J. Samuel Hammond

J. Samuel Hammond, 73, longtime carillonneur at Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, died February 25. Hammond retired from the university in December 2018 after 53 years of service spanning six university presidents. He performed daily carillon recitals at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and on Sundays after chapel services and at university ceremonies. Upon his retirement the university board of trustees dedicated the 50-bell carillon in his honor.

Born August 22, 1947, Hammond came to Duke as an undergraduate student in 1964 from Americus, Georgia, and began playing the chapel carillon shortly after his arrival. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1968 and later earned a master’s degree in theological studies, both at Duke, as well as a master’s degree in library science from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Hammond was promoted to chapel carillonneur upon graduation in 1968 and was named university carillonneur in 1986, becoming only the second person to hold the title. In 2018, he was named university carillonneur emeritus. For 41 years, he was a librarian in the university’s rare book room, music library, and other library departments. Upon retirement from the library in 2012, he was honored through the collection’s acquisition of a rare first edition of the illustrated 1612 book, De campanis commentarius (“A Commentary on Bells”).

Hammond performed recitals in bell towers of churches and universities across the United States. In addition, for more than 50 years, he volunteered as accompanist for young musicians in the Duke String School, playing piano in rehearsals and performances. During his lifetime, Hammond served as organist at Methodist, Episcopal, and Catholic churches, substitute organist at Duke Chapel, and accompanist for the Triangle Jewish Chorale, Durham Savoyards, Longleaf Opera Company, and other groups.

J. Samuel Hammond is survived by his wife Marie, son Christopher and his wife Kelli, son John, and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts may be made to Urban Ministries of Durham, Triangle Land Conservancy, or a charity of your choice.

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