One of Duke Hospital’s first Black employees, Donald Love’s memory continues to live on through service awards presented by the Department of Pathology.

Love, who was born in 1907 and died in 1985, began his job in 1930 while the hospital and medical school were still under construction. He stayed for 44 years.

In an article he wrote, reflecting back on his 40 years of service, Love recalled walking onto a hospital campus that was still under construction. He said he wasn’t even sure he was in the right building.

Love’s initial responsibilities were preparing wards for patients, changing linens and other housekeeping duties. He later joined the Department of Pathology where he worked as an assistant for the department’s autopsy service and was responsible for preparing specimens for teaching.

Love’s youngest daughter, Pearlie Love Lewis, recalled that one of her father’s tasks was to guide hospital visitors by pressing the elevator button. Then, he had to run up the stairs to meet them, because Black people weren’t allowed in the same elevators at the time.

In 1993, the Love Service Awards were established in his name and awarded through 1999. The awards provided financial support to staff members enrolled in certificate or degree programs. At the time, Love was recognized as someone with high accomplishments and perseverance, who “served humanity with altruistic compassion.”

The awards returned in 2022 after a two-year hiatus. In 2023, with several of Love’s family members in attendance, they were handed out during a ceremony at the University Club in Durham, where past recipients also were recognized.