Duyer compassionate in pursuit of history

Greg Bassett
Posted 11/28/20

Salisbury historian Linda Duyer, who documented much of the community's diverse history, passed away this month. The last message I received from Linda Duyer should have set off an alarm bell. …

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Duyer compassionate in pursuit of history


The last message I received from Linda Duyer should have set off an alarm bell. Instead it made me laugh.

Linda, who made this newspaper better whenever she wrote anything for it, had been hospitalized in the early fall, but still had a list of history pieces lined up to present to Salisbury Independent readers.

In a string of emails, we traded some gossip like newspaper reporters do, and she closed with this:

“My health isn’t great and I’m tired a lot. But hey, if there’s ever a year to sleep through, this would be it. :)”

I chuckled and replied we’d communicate soon.

Linda passed away a few days later in her Salisbury home,  during the weekend of Nov. 8.

Over a career, newspaper editors are exposed to lots of readers who love history and want to write about it all. When we started this newspaper in 2014, I misjudged Linda as just another writer who wanted to tell awkward stories about a community’s past.

Was I ever wrong.

Linda Duyer was a real historian. She was a real writer and a person who wanted us all to know more about Salisbury.

Having read local history books written by the likes of Richard Cooper, James W.T. Webb and my hero Charles Truitt, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Salisbury’s past. Linda Duyer introduced me to a completely different asspect of Salisbury’s past.

Her thorough thinking and ability to approach historic events from a sensitive and compassionate base made her a special interpreter of our past. Her research and writing about Salisbury’s African American history was especially poignant.

Go to salisburyIndependent.net and type “Linda Duyer” into the search bar. You’ll see a list of her contributions over the last six years. It is an amazing collection of stories — all truly informative and relevant.

Through those stories, one can see the eagerness with which she wanted to tell the story of Salisbury.

The artist Paul Boyd produced a remarkable mural on Route 13 at Isabella Street, which displays some of that history. Duyer helped Boyd select the content for that mural, and the artist produced images that are as graceful as they are informative.

Whenever I pass that mural, I pause to admire Boyd’s efforts — but Linda Duyer will always be the person I think about first.