Search this site

By Word & Example


A Bicentennial Project of the Episcopal Church Women

Guidelines for Submitting a “BY WORD & EXAMPLE” Sketch



February 20, 1882 – October 1, 1951

by David Curtis Skaggs, Christ Episcopal Church, New Bern, NC, 2016 

Minnette Chapman Duffy - Photo courtesy of New Bern Historical Society Foundation, Inc.Beginning in the 1920s, Christ Church’s Minnette Chapman Duffy championed one of the longest running and most important projects in the history of New Bern – the rebuilding of Tryon Palace. The wife of New Bern physician Richard Nixon Duffy, Minette was a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, who accompanied her husband to his hometown in 1907. She immediately became involved in the history of the community, helping to found what is now the New Bern Historical Society in 1923 and becoming its president in 1926.

A gracious hostess, Minette was instrumental in securing Governor O. Max Gardner’s support for a giant celebration of New Bern’s past in 1929 that was known the “New Bern Historical Pageant.” About this same time the idea of reconstructing Tryon Palace arose for what Our State magazine later said: “Of all the unlikely ideas presented to North Carolinians, this seemed at the time the wildest.” Tryon Palace reconstruction involved the purchase of numerous private homes and businesses, the re-routing of a highway that ran in front of the property, and a considerable, presumably public, expense for its construction and maintenance.

In the middle of the Great Depression Minette sought a major public expenditure for which many thought was a ridiculous idea. Several New Bern city officials belittled the proposal saying “Nobody will come to see an old house.” Leading the opposition was Charles L. Abernethy, Jr., who represented disgruntled property owners. He called the project “a pig in a poke.”

But Minette Duffy and Miss Gertrude Carraway recruited an important ally in native New Bernian, Mrs. Maude Moore Latham, wife of a very successful Greensboro businessman. After seeing what was being done in Williamsburg, Maude said, “North Carolina should not fall behind the State of Virginia in promoting its history.” She promised a gift in excess of $1.5 million if the state would maintain and staff the property. The influence of Minette, Maude and Gertrude reached fruition in 1945 when the General Assembly enacted a law allowing the use of eminent domain to purchase the necessary properties. In 1951 Maude’s will bequeathed the balance of her estate for the rebuilding of Tryon Palace. Although Minette also died before this project’s completion, we know she would be proud that her “passion” brings more than 100,000 visitors to New Bern each year. That is certainly a profitable “pig in a poke” for the colonial capital of North Carolina.

Minette also made other historical contributions to the community and state. She secured a copy of the multi-volume History of the De Graffenried Family (Swiss founders of New Bern) for the local public library. She pushed for the preservation of the historic Stanly House and Judge William Gaston’s law office in her husband’s hometown. Collectively these were indeed important legacies of this “young lady from Tennessee” to her adopted home state of North Carolina.



May 8, 1914 - July 24, 2003

by Willard Seymour “Tom” Taylor, Jr., All Saints Episcopal Church, Hamlet, NC, 2015

Frances Jean Cox-TaylorFrances Jean Cox was born in Eden, North Carolina (then known as Leaksville-Spray), a daughter of Foster Nugent Cox and Virginia Mae Johnson. An attorney before his ordination to the Episcopal priesthood in 1945, Foster served churches first in the Diocese of East Carolina, and then in Tarboro, Hamlet and Laurinburg.

In addition to Frances, the Cox children included Maxine, Betty Ann and Howard. Frances married Willard Seymour Taylor and they lived with their two sons, Timothy Nugent and Willard Seymour, Jr. (“Tom”) in Rockingham, North Carolina. Tom and Tim both attended college in North Carolina, then Tom attended seminary and served as an Episcopal priest until his retirement. Tim had a career as a math professor at James Madison University. Maxine and her husband, “Doc” Davis, and their two children lived in Hamlet, near Rockingham.

Frances was very attractive, highly intelligent and had a very vivacious personality. She was usually the center of attention wherever she was. She was devoted to her husband, her sons and her many friends.

A deeply spiritual person, Frances loved art and was an artist herself, producing many paintings and drawings through the years. She studied art for many years at the Attic Gallery of Greensboro. She was delighted when her earlier sketch of All Saints’ Church in Hamlet was re-ordered, and it has been used since December 1984 on the cover of the bulletin for All Saints.

Frances died in 2003 at Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst and her funeral was held at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Rockingham, North Carolina. She was buried in the churchyard at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hillsborough, North Carolina.



b. September 20, 1944

by the Archives Committee of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, NC, 2016

Carolyn Todd StokesCarolyn Todd Stokes is a “cradle” Episcopalian. She was baptized on Christmas Eve of 1944 at Pinkney Memorial Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. Her family moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1947, where they became members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Carolyn attended Sunday School, was a member of the choir and was a member of Episcopal Young Churchmen as a teenager.

In 1963 Carolyn married her next-door neighbor, James C. Stokes, Jr., who was also a member of St. Paul’s. They were married by the new rector, Dudley Colhoun, who also baptized their three children.

Carolyn and Jim moved several times because of Jim’s job transfers, and they always found the Episcopal Church. St. Paul’s in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, North Carolina, were homes for a while, but in 1985 a move back “home” to Winston-Salem found them back at St. Paul’s.

Carolyn was active in the preschool while her three children were there. The annual bazaar workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the fall were a part of her life. She chaired several committees including sewing and cooking.

In 1996 Dudley Colhoun asked Carolyn to join the Altar Guild. It has always been a special ministry for her. She became the co-chair with Lynn Holtzclaw in 2000, with a reorganization of that committee. There were three revolving co-chairs and each would take the lead for two years. It now has two co-chairs. That pattern has remained to this day. The Altar Guild at St. Paul’s is made up of several subcommittees (linen, flower and communion) with many women being involved in these areas. The communion committee has four weekly chairs with a team that either sets up or cleans up once a month. The linen committee and flower committee each has a chair also. There are many services, including weekly services, weddings, funerals, Diocesan gatherings, including the ECW Annual Meeting in 2016. The Altar Guild does a lot of work behind the scenes, but it has always been very meaningful to Carolyn.

The other area that Carolyn has enjoyed is the Ecclesiastical Arts Committee. Members of this group are concerned with maintaining the historic, liturgical, and architectural integrity of St. Paul’s Church and grounds. This includes recommendations to the Vestry for expenditure of funds from the Ecclesiastical Arts Fund to support various long-term or permanent architectural, decorative, or liturgical enhancements.



b. February 12, 1930

by Page H. Onorato, Grace Episcopal Church, Lexington, NC, 2016

Mary Dauch DavisMary Dauch Davis came to Lexington, North Carolina, as a bride in 1956. Raised in Ohio, she met her future husband, Gray Davis, in Denver where she was teaching kindergarten after graduating from Oberlin College. She agreed to teach the young man how to play bridge.

Mary wasn’t impressed with Gray’s charms, especially when he flicked cigarette ashes on her newly vacuumed carpet. But he soon won her heart, and the attractive, well-educated Yankee girl found herself living in a small, racially segregated southern town, where furniture and textile industries had made a few residents very wealthy and provided many jobs.

The move was a culture shock for Mary; her husband was a member of a socially prominent family and she was invited to join the society of the community. Mary found herself at a loss in a region where blacks were treated as second-class citizens. As a child in Sandusky, Mary was outraged when her grammar school class was taken to a nearby pool to learn swimming and her classmate, Louise Alexander, an African-American, was not allowed in the pool.

On her first visit to a local movie theater, she pointedly drank from a water fountain marked “Colored.” She resigned from a prestigious charitable women’s organization because it had an all-white membership. She applied her skills and energy to working for causes to aid the underprivileged. Early in the 1960’s, she wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper protesting the closing of a furniture plant’s employees’ swimming pool to avoid integrating the facility. She and her family received severe criticism, including death threats, from members of the community.

Mary was instrumental in founding Contact, an organization which offered a telephone Hot Line for people in crisis situations. Under her direction, this endeavor evolved into the Domestic Violence Agency, providing guidance and a haven for those in emergency situations.

Early in the 1980s Mary was instrumental in establishing a Hospice program in Davidson County. After serving as volunteer director and after earning a master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro, she worked as head bereavement counselor for many years.

In the late 1980s, Mary and two concerned citizens decided to address the dire need in Lexington for low-cost home ownership. The dream of owning a home was just unattainable for many. Armed with a strong will, these three champions began meeting at Grace Episcopal Church and in 1988 formed what is now Habitat for Humanity of Lexington, NC.

Mary and Gray were active members of Grace Episcopal Church, acting as leaders of the Episcopal Youth program, on the Social Concerns Commission and the Refugee Resettlement Program; serving on the Vestry where Mary was among the first female vestry members. She was instrumental in the church’s accepting girls as acolytes.

Her many accomplishments in the areas of equal rights, public assistance for the needy, palliative and bereavement issues and other social concerns have made her an invaluable asset to the community.



October 2, 1922 – December 29, 2015

by Rosalie Fonda, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, NC, 2016

Elizabeth Spencer GrayThe daughter of Mary Elizabeth Benton Spencer and Percy C. Spencer, Elizabeth Spencer Gray was born in Greenville, North Carolina in 1922. She completed high school and took college and graduate classes in Early Childhood Education at the University of North Carolina, Greenville, North Carolina State University, and The Gesell Institute of Child Development in New Haven, Connecticut. Beth was the mother of five children and a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church.

From 1950 to 1955 Beth taught classes out of her home in Durham. In 1961 she helped establish a kindergarten and preschool for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, then on West Club Boulevard. Several years later she designed and equipped the new building for St. Luke’s Kindergarten and Preschool when the church moved to its new and current site on Hillandale Road. The school accommodated 110 children and was open to children of all denominations and faiths. All classrooms had innovative observation windows so that parents and visiting teachers could observe activities in the classroom. Now called The Gray Building in honor of Beth Gray, this original school site now houses LEAP (Latino Education Achievement Program), along with Preschool tutoring and Sunday School classes.

In the early 1960s Beth was a consultant and taught classes in early childhood development and kindergarten curriculum to the first teachers of Head Start in Durham. She was also a consultant for the first public school kindergartens in Durham and gave workshops on kindergarten curriculum and child development for teachers new to this period of education. She also served on the council of The Child Guidance Center, directed by Duke University.

Beth taught and directed the St. Luke’s Kindergarten and Preschool for more than 50 years, until her retirement in 2007 at the age of 85. Following retirement she remained vitally interested in all things related to early childhood education in North Carolina.

In 2007 the governor of North Carolina, Michael Easley, conferred upon Beth Gray The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of her “integrity, learning and zeal” during her long and innovative career in early childhood education. Upon her death in 2015, memorial gifts were requested as donations in her memory to the Grey Stone Preschool and Kindergarten in Durham, where Beth’s teaching program and philosophy continue.