Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans

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Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans
BornMary Duke Biddle
February 21, 1920
New York City
DiedJanuary 25, 2012 (aged 91)
Duke University Hospital,
Durham, North Carolina
Alma materDuke University (A.B. 1939)
Spouse(s)Josiah Trent (1938–48)
James Semans (1953–2005)
ChildrenMary Trent Jones
Sarah Trent Harris
Rebecca Trent Kirkland
Barbara Trent Kimbrell
Jenny Semans Koortbojian
James Duke Biddle Trent Semans
Beth Semans Hubbard
ParentsAnthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Jr.
Mary Duke Biddle
RelativesAnthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Sr.
Benjamin Newton Duke
Washington Duke
 
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Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans
BornMary Duke Biddle
February 21, 1920
New York City
DiedJanuary 25, 2012 (aged 91)
Duke University Hospital,
Durham, North Carolina
Alma materDuke University (A.B. 1939)
Spouse(s)Josiah Trent (1938–48)
James Semans (1953–2005)
ChildrenMary Trent Jones
Sarah Trent Harris
Rebecca Trent Kirkland
Barbara Trent Kimbrell
Jenny Semans Koortbojian
James Duke Biddle Trent Semans
Beth Semans Hubbard
ParentsAnthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Jr.
Mary Duke Biddle
RelativesAnthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Sr.
Benjamin Newton Duke
Washington Duke

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans (February 21, 1920 – January 25, 2012) was an American heiress and philanthropist. She was the great grand-daughter of tobacco industrialist and Duke University benefactor Washington Duke. She herself was a major benefactor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.[1][2]

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Life

Semans was born Mary Duke Biddle on February 21, 1920 to Mary Lillian Duke and Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Jr. Her father was the former U.S. Ambassador to Poland and Spain. Semans was raised in Manhattan, where she attended the Hewitt School in New York.[3] At the age of 14, she moved to Durham, North Carolina to live with her grandmother, Sarah P. Duke. At the age of 15, she enrolled at Duke University's Woman's College, graduating in 1939.[4]

While at Duke, she met Josiah Charles Trent, a Duke medical student and future surgeon and chief of Duke Hospital's division of thoracic surgery. Semans and Trent married in 1938 and had four children. Ten years later, Trent died of lymphoma at the age of 34.[5]

In 1953, she married James Semans, a Duke surgeon. The couple had three children. James Semans died in 2005.[6]

Other

In 1951, she became the first woman to be elected to the Durham City Council. She went on to serve as the city's mayor pro tem from 1952 to 1955.[7] In 1957, she became a trustee of The Duke Endowment, and was its chairman from 1982 to 2001. She also served on the board of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and was on the board of trustees for Duke University.[8][9]

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