Reynolds Price, a renowned Southern writer and a professor at Duke University for more than 50 years, has died.
Price died of cancer Thursday at age 77, the university announced.
"With a poet's deep appreciation for language, Reynolds Price taught generations of students to understand and love literature," Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said in a statement on the university's website.
"Reynolds was a part of the soul of Duke; he loved this university and always wanted to make it better. We can scarcely imagine Duke without Reynolds Price."
Price's 1962 book "A Long and Happy Life" received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel. His novel "Kate Vaiden" received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986.
"I don't think there's any question, he was the most important writer in North Carolina," Anthony Abbott, a retired Davidson College English professor, told the Charlotte Observer.
Price taught courses on creative writing and the work of 17th-century English poet John Milton. The professor, who called himself an "outlaw" Christian, also taught a course on the Gospels of the Bible, according to the university.
"I will always remember the young man who taught me literature. He had me mesmerized,” Madeline Hartsell, a 1962 Duke graduate who studied under Price, told CNN affiliate WRAL. “There are few teachers whom we remember and who we believe inspired us to write, to read and to love words. That was Reynolds Price’s legacy.”
His readings of Halloween stories were a campus tradition for years, the university said.
Price survived spinal cancer in the mid-1980s, but the aggressive treatment he underwent left him paralyzed and forced to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, according to the Observer.
His disability "was a mere complexity in the ongoing narrative which God intended me to make of my life," he wrote in his 2006 book, "Letter to a Godchild."
According to the Observer, there will be no public funeral. His body will be cremated and his ashes scattered near his home in Durham, North Carolina.