James R. Clapp, MD
May 2, 2020
Dr. James Robert Clapp, M.D. ("Jim") passed away peacefully at Atrium Medical Center in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Jim was born on September 3, 1931 in Chatham County NC, and raised on the family farm by his loving parents Raymond and Ruby Clapp. He grew up with his older brother Ed, who passed away in 2006, and his younger sister Nancy Oldham of Siler City, NC. In his passing, Jim leaves his loving wife of over 66 years, Janet Hunt Clapp of Durham. Jim and Janet were married at her home in Durham in December, 1953.
Jim was a caring father to his two sons, James Robert Clapp, Jr. ("Bobby") who pre-deceased him in 2012, and Charles Thomas Clapp ("Tommy"). He was beloved by his daughter-in-laws, Laura Clapp Nason and Kathy Clapp. Jim was also the proud and loving "Grandpa" to five grandchildren, Tom, David, Michelle, Patrick, and Katie.
After graduating from Siler City High School in 1950 Jim enrolled at Duke University for his undergraduate studies. Following his years at Duke he was accepted into the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. After graduation from medical school in the class of 1957, Jim and Janet moved to Dallas, Texas for his internship and residency in Internal Medicine. Following this he completed his Fellowship training in Nephrology at Parkland Hospital. In 1961, Jim accepted the position of lead investigator in the Kidney and Electrolyte Division at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.
In 1963, Jim returned to Durham to join the Duke University School of Medicine as an Associate in the Division of Nephrology. Jim's first ten years were focused on research in the area of Renal Physiology. During this time he was named an Established Researcher for the American Heart Association, and subsequently became one of three faculty members at Duke to receive the first Howard Hughes Fellowships. In 1972, he was elevated to the position of Professor of Medicine.
In 1973, his interests shifted from research to clinical medicine, and he began to provide care for patients with advanced kidney disease and hypertension. As a practicing clinician Jim had a profound impact on the lives of his patients and their families. In 1991, Jim was appointed Director of the Wallace Clinic, and he founded what is now the Duke Executive Health Program. In addition to his many accomplishments as a nationally recognized medical researcher, clinician, and professor, Jim has served on numerous professional boards, and has been the recipient of several distinguished honors. These include the UNC School of Medicine Distinguished Service Award, Duke Medical School Admissions Committee, American Society of Nephrology, and a recipient of the Duke Medical Award of Distinction. His legacy and contribution to Duke will continue through the James R. Clapp Endowed Professorship - Department of Medicine, the James R. Clapp Nephrology Endowment, and the James R. Clapp Research Endowment – Duke Center for Living.
Despite his professional achievements and numerous forms of recognition, Jim gained his greatest joy from the simple things in his life. He was guided by his strong faith in God, the love he shared with Janet, and his ability to never lose sight of the importance of family. His priorities were well grounded, and he never lost connection with his beginnings. He was most comfortable outdoors tending his flowers, fishing in Siler City, or making memories at the family house on the Pamlico Sound in Oriental, NC. Adventures on the water, driving his much loved 1948 red Willys Jeep in the July 4th parade, and serving as cook at the family fish fry will live in our memories forever. His calm and patient demeanor was only disrupted by his passion for Duke Basketball. A Cameron ticketholder since 1963, Jim never missed the opportunity to cheer for his beloved Blue Devils.
Although Jim was comfortable with the complexities of medicine, he can best be described in simple terms – he was caring, generous, and kind. He will be greatly missed by so many.
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