Duffy Gilligan, long-time Chapel Hill resident and friend to multitudes of locals, died in the early hours of November 8.
Crawford Lynn Gilligan, Jr., was born in Tyler, Texas, to Crawford Lynn Gilligan, Sr., and Ora Mae Harvey Gilligan. His Irish dad dubbed his little infant “Duffy.” The name stuck, and the young boy grew into a large, generous-hearted man, Duffy, a one-name wonder in the Chapel Hill community. When he was quite young, his family moved to Massachusetts, where he lived until he entered The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, attending from middle school through high school graduation. Duffy moved to Chapel Hill in 1970 to attend UNC and never left the town that he came to love.
In 1975 Duffy founded Universal Printing and Publishing, Inc., a Chapel Hill company that became franchised in Durham, Raleigh, Columbia, SC, and other regional cities. During the 1980s Duffy moved from printing to real estate, serving until his death as a mortgage broker. During these years he became an avid collector of the art and antiques that now fill his expansive Orange County home.
In 2004 Duffy built The Barn at Valhalla next to his home. The Barn – which has been the site of hundreds of community events, including wedding receptions, family reunions, spiritual events, social gatherings, band performances, retreats, class reunions and more – became locally famous for the festive extravagance of Duffy’s December parties that drew as many as 1,000 guests each year. The Barn was also the scene of the abundant annual Thanksgiving feasts he offered up to family, extended family and friends on beautiful tables sparkling with decorations of the season and plentiful food and drink.
Duffy is survived by his beloved son, Luke Gilligan, and Luke’s wife, Susannah, of Chapel Hill; beloved grandchildren, Amelia and Isaac Gilligan; sister, Lynn Everhart of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and her husband Wilson Everhart; nephews, Michael and Wilson Everhart; friend and former wife, Sandra Brooks-Mathers, of Chapel Hill, and her husband, Mike Mathers; friend and former stepdaughter, Christy Branscomb, of Chapel Hill; friends and in-laws, Wanda and Tye Hunter, of Chapel Hill; several cousins in Tyler, Texas; and a multitude of friends.
The family will hold a private memorial service to return Duffy’s ashes to the grounds of his home and The Barn at Valhalla. Anyone wishing to offer tributes and condolences may do so at Remembering Duffy, https://www.facebook.com/RememberingDuffy?ref=ts&fref=ts.
Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations in Duffy’s memory be sent to either of two organizations that he supported through the years: WUNC radio (wunc.org/support) or water.org (https://donate.water.org/).