Dr. Michael F. Durfee, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.

August 11, 2013 

Dr. Michael Durfee was a life-long learner devoted to his profession, family, and his many intellectual pursuits. He died on August 4, 2013 from a rare form of melanoma. Thanks to the supportive care of UNC Hospice, he was able to stay in his home at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill. Dr. Michael Durfee was the Founder and Medical Director of Wake Teen Medical Services in Raleigh from 1977 to 1995. He has been called the “Father of Adolescent Medicine” since a multi-disciplinary focus on adolescents was unique at the time. His dedication and commitment to providing medical services, counseling, and sage advice to the youth of Raleigh resulted in being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Wake Teen.Dr. Michael Durfee was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1937 and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. Mike began a path of life-long learning sparked by an endless curiosity. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Ohio University in 1959, and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Virginia in 1963, completed his residency at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and in 1968 became Board Certified in Pediatrics. Then from 1966 to 1969, Dr. Durfee became a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, stationed in Landstuhl, Germany. He received the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for his outstanding and innovative service. Returning to the U.S., he joined the Fuller-Roberts Clinic in South Boston, VA as a Pediatrician until 1975 when he became a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar in the UNC School of Medicine, and obtained a Master of Public Health two years later. He was Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, UNC Chapel Hill, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Education, NC State University. In 1990, he also became the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Governor’s Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse in NC, another unique concept that was designed to bring a curriculum into medical schools and private practices. He was also the Founder and First Chairman of the Wake County Physicians Task Force for Handicapped Students in 1983. He completed his career as Associate Medical Director of Student Health at NCSU. For his many contributions and leadership in the community, Mike was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the Governor can bestow upon a citizen of North Carolina. Mike was equally committed to his family. He married his high school sweetheart, Susan Morse, after they both graduated from Ohio University in 1959. Mike dedicated 54 years to his loving wife, honoring her in every way as a supportive partner. In addition, he was dedicated to supporting his two children, Laura and Stephen, and later on brought Camille into the family as well. He particularly devoted much of his time to helping Camille once Laura and Stephen left home.Mike loved classical music and could often be heard whistling concertos. At the age of 40, he began cello lessons. He then went on to study Chinese in his 60s, and after retiring in 2000, Mike continued his learning adventures by obtaining a Master of Liberal Studies at NC State University. In his 70s, he worked to learn Spanish. His personal passion was to read books in a variety of subjects, and he was always seen with a book under his arm wherever he went. Mike was curious about life, and was always interested in what others were learning, what was important to them, and why. He also had a keen wit and was always ready with an amusing quip. One of his favorite quotes was from Henry James, “We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”Dr. Durfee is survived by his wife, Susan Morse Durfee; his daughter, Laura Durfee Nufire, and her husband, Paul Meade of Chapel Hill; his son, Stephen Michael Durfee, and his wife, Christine of Bethlehem, PA; Camille Durfee of Sanford; his sister, Jane Malphurs, and her husband Ojus; his brother-in-law, David Morse, and his wife, Joan Joffe Hall, as well as several nieces and nephews and “adopted” family members in his circle.A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Memorial donations can be made to UNC Hospice (1101 Weaver Dairy Road, Suite 200, Chapel Hill, NC 27514) or Carolina Meadows Residents Gift Fund (100 Carolina Meadows, Chapel Hill, NC, 27517).

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