Death of former trustee Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans

Former Elon trustee Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Jan. 25 at the age of 91.

Semans was a trustee from her election in 1978 until her resignation in December 1982. She was the great-granddaughter of Washington Duke, a Confederate soldier who helped build the worldwide popularity of cigarettes and endowed a small Methodist college that would become Duke University. Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead called Semans “a powerful force for good in Durham and the Carolinas.” She enrolled at Duke University at age 15 and studied art history, graduating in 1939. She was a patron of the arts and charities, ran The Duke Endowment for decades, and also worked diligently for equal rights for women.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Duke Chapel on the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina.