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Subject: Woody Durham, longtime commentator for UNC ("Voice of the Tar Heels")

He was 76
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Date Posted: Wednesday, March 07, 07:16:46am

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Woody Durham, the longtime radio voice of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball and football, has died, according to his family.

Durham, who spent 40 years calling some of UNC's most memorable sports moments, including 23 football bowl games and 13 men's Final Fours and six national championship, retired in 2011 and began to struggle with his speech soon after. He was diagnosed in 2016 with primary progressive aphasia, a rare brain disorder that affects speech.

Durham died peacefully on Tuesday night, his family said. He was 76.

“It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves the University of North Carolina because we have lost someone who spent nearly 50 years as one of its greatest champions and ambassadors,”UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams said in a statement. “My heart goes out to Jean, Wes, Taylor and their entire family."

The Albemarle native is a 1963 graduate of UNC and called almost 2,000 games for the Tar Heels during his career. He also spent 14 years as a television sports anchor, and he's a 13-time winner of the NSMA's North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year award.

Durham's diagnosis came on gradually: He and his wife noticed a decline in his speech leading up to his retirement, and he began to have trouble understanding what others were saying. The official diagnosis, though, didn't come until 2016.

In an open letter posted to UNC's website in June of that year, Durham revealed the diagnosis to say he would no longer be doing any public speaking but would remain a staple at Carolina games and functions.

"While learning of this diagnosis was a bit of a shock for Jean and me, and yes, quite an ironic one at that, it also brought a sense of relief to us in terms of understanding what was happening to me and how best to deal with it," Durham wrote.

This June, Durham will be inducted into the NSMA's Hall of Fame with several other sports personalities, including HBO's Bryant Gumbel.

“Our family is grateful for the incredible support my dad and our family received throughout his illness,” Durham's son Wes Durham said in a statement. “From the medical teams to the general public, it’s been amazing. We hold to and will always cherish the wonderful memories he left for our family and Carolina fans throughout the world.”

Durham's death comes at the beginning of the men's basketball postseason, including the ACC Tournament, for which he was a fixture throughout his tenure on air.

"It’s ironic that Woody would pass away at the start of the postseason in college basketball because this was such a joyous time for him," Williams said. "He created so many lasting memories for Carolina fans during this time of year. It’s equally ironic that he dealt with a disorder for the final years of his life that robbed him of his ability to communicate as effectively as he did in perfecting his craft."

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that he was impressed with how much work Durham put in to each game and how easy he made it sound.

“Woody was synonymous with Carolina Athletics for decades, and his voice was gospel to generations of Tar Heels who trusted his every word," Swofford said. "I was struck by how diligently Woody prepared for his broadcast of games. When game time arrived, he made it look and sound so easy because he had a voice that resonated just so, but much of it was because he worked incredibly hard at it. As they say ‘the great ones make it look easy.' Woody was one of the great ones. He was just as good a person as he was a broadcaster."


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Subject Author Date
Being from NC and a huge Tarheel fan I'm extremely upset over missing this one. (NT)R.I.P WoodyWednesday, March 07, 08:43:30am
Watched him on TV since the 60's. He did sports on WFMY-TV in Greensboro. (NT)TellerWednesday, March 07, 12:14:26pm

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