A crowd gathered into Carmichael Arena on Sunday afternoon for a memorial for the late Woody Durham. The legendary broadcaster who served as the Voice of the Tar Heels for 40 years passed away in early March due to complications with a neurocognitive disorder – primary progressive aphasia.
Jones Angell succeeded Durham in the broadcast booth and opened Sunday’s ceremony. Angell shared a story about growing up listening to Durham that was mirrored in families across the Tar Heel State.
“I grew up in North Carolina,” Angell told the crowd. “I grew up in a Tar Heel family. And when Carolina was playing, we listened to Woody. If we went to the game, we listened to Woody. If we stayed home and watched on television, we turned the sound down, and we listened to Woody.
“If Woody told us to go where we needed to go and do what we needed to do, we listened to Woody.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a UNC alumnus, also spoke at Durham’s memorial. Cooper said he took Durham’s instructions to “Go Where You Go and Do What You Do” quite literally.
“Now, you may think that we won that national championship in 1993 because of Dean Smith or Eric Montross or George Lynch or The Donald [Williams] or Chris Webber’s timeout,” Cooper said. “But no, it was because there was a little baby in a damp Carolina blue jumpsuit in a swing, because Woody told me to put her there. That’s why.”
John Swofford – a UNC alumnus and the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference – pointed to Durham’s connection with North Carolina fans across the state that made him unique.
“Fans trusted his every word,” Swofford said. “If Woody said it, it was true; that’s how it happened.”
Woody’s son Wes, an accomplished broadcaster in his own right, wrapped up Sunday’s memorial recalling his father’s connection with fans by announcing births, birthdays and wedding congratulations on the air during Tar Heel broadcasts.
“I received a note last week via social media from someone who told me their birth was announced, their birthday was announced and their wedding was announced all in my dad’s 40 years of doing Carolina,” Durham said. “You may have never met my dad, but if he knew you were pulling for the bold boys in bashful blue, that was good enough for him.”
Durham called nearly 2,000 football and men’s basketball games for the Tar Heels, including men’s basketball championships in 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009. Sunday’s memorial showed that throughout that time, Durham touched lives across North Carolina.
Photo via UNC Athletic Communications/Jeffrey A. Camarati