William Powell Duff III, 63, died a peaceful death on Monday, August 17th, surrounded by his family. He courageously fought lung cancer for 14 months with hope and optimism, fueled by his faith and the many people who loved him and supported him.
He was born on January 27th 1952 at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, N.C. He graduated from Virginia Episcopal School in 1970, and went to UNC Chapel Hill the next Fall. He graduated with a BS degree in Business from Campbell University in 1974 and went to work for Reid Towler with New England Life Insurance. After Reid’s retirement he continued to work for New England Life, which eventually became MetLife. He married Sally Tayloe from Washington, N.C in 1978 and they had 37 wonderful years together. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Powell Duff Jr, his in-laws Dr. and Mrs. David T. Tayloe and his nephew Thompson Tayloe. He is survived by so many of his loving family members: 3 children—Erin Koontz and husband Chris, Bill Duff and wife Claire, and youngest daughter Claire, his sister Claire Dodd and one grandson, Henry Jackson Koontz. He is also survived by in-laws, Dave and Denise Tayloe, Elizabeth and Whit Powell, Ryal and Kimbro Tayloe, Mark and Kim Tayloe, along with 15 nieces and nephews and 13 great nieces and nephews who loved their “Bill Duff” so dearly.
Bill was a life long member of St. Michel’s Episcopal church, his and Sally’s second home. He volunteered in many capacities most recently serving on the vestry for three years. As Sr. Warden of the vestry during his third year he was able to “mentor” the younger men and women who served with him and his leadership meant so much to them. He taught 6th grade Sunday School for many years and was an active member of the Newcomer Committee. He was a favorite of so many and had a profound impact on the lives of those he taught. In the last 14 months he has gotten numerous letters from students who told him what he had meant to them. On Sundays, there were always young people looking for him, because even though they had moved on to another class, Bill continued to love them and guide them in their lives. On the newcomer committee he welcomed others to his church and many joined because he was the one who showed them around and made them feel at home. His faith was contagious and inspired others in so many ways! He coached his children in all of their sports, and even though he knew very little about soccer was willing to learn. Bill was much more comfortable on the golf course and in 1980 the weekend his first daughter was born, he won the Club Championship… he never won again. His favorite way to spend a Saturday was cooking pancakes for his family in the morning and then the afternoon with his buddies on the golf course. He was content and sustained in that life and had no interest in leaving Wake County or the golf course. Sally did convince him every now and then to spend some money and they did take a few nice trips with dear friends. He also had a special place in his heart for the Tayloe family home down on the Pamlico River where he spent summers and holidays with his extended family every year.
There is so much to say about this incredible man who to so many was a “rock star”. Not the type of star who gets headlines, but a star who loved his family, his church and anyone who came into his life. He had a strong faith that he was willing to share and spent many years in Bible Studies. His Thursday morning Bible Study group at St. Michael’s started years ago and he was a faithful member. He hardly ever missed a meeting until this summer. This group of men meant so much to Bill and I think for all of them, it has been a little taste of heaven. Even though his years have been cut short, what a difference he made to so many. Shortly after he was diagnosed last year he said “I have had a wonderful life, what more can I ask for” and he did.
The funeral service will be held Monday, August 24th at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 1520 Canterbury Rd. at 2pm with reception to follow at the church.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, college scholarship fund (this fund was created by daughter Claire as her 10th grade project at Broughton High School).
The Duff family, would like to thank Bill’s medical team at Duke Raleigh Hospital, especially Dr. Jennifer Garst, Dr. David White, and Brenda Wilcox.
“He was a rich man because he loved deeply and knew how to laugh; everybody dies but not everybody knows how to live”. Bill Duff knew how to live. Thanks be to God!
Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Saint Mary's St., Raleigh.