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What’s In The Lab: A Farewell to a Beloved Colleague

Sam Hammond, University Carillonneur, played the Duke Chapel carillon at the close of each work day.
Sam Hammond, University Carillonneur. Image from Duke Today.

Duke Libraries lost a beloved colleague yesterday. Sam Hammond passed away Thursday at the age of 73. Sam was many things. He worked in the library for 41 years including as a music librarian, and as a librarian in the Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.  Sam was also a campus carillonneur for over 50 years. He started playing the carillon as a first year Duke student in 1964. He retired from that job in 2018.  He also walked to work, and used those walks to pick up litter from the roadside. With every step he made the world just a little bit better.

Sam was a kind soul who always had time to help you when you needed information. When I would visit his office to review something, he would share some of the other wondrous things he was working on. I learned a lot from him. Sam had a sharp wit, and when he told a joke his eyes would shine. He was a true gentleman. But above all, he would routinely tell me how much he appreciated Conservation’s work, and that he was happy I was here at Duke . That always made me feel good, and it was a master class in how to treat your colleagues.

To honor Sam and his contributions to campus, Carillonneur Joey Fala played a variety of Sam’s favorites yesterday at 5pm. You can see the full recital online at Duke Today. Recordings of Sam playing the carillon, and more information on his life can be found online here and here.

As I was contemplating this blog post, I looked for items in the lab that would resonate. Flowers are often given to the family after they lose a loved one. This wonderful book on flowers is on our repair shelf. Tulips have many meanings, love, loyalty, peace and forgiveness. Plus, spring is just around the corner, and after the year we have had, who doesn’t need some cheerful spring blooms?

Garden Flowers in Color, by Daniel J. Foley (1943).

Thank you Sam. You have left your mark on Duke in ways too numerous to count. We will miss you immensely.

I folded a paper crane and left it on the front door of the Chapel before the concert. I hope its spirit found its way to Sam.