LONGVIEW — Tom Durham "Butch" Bivins died peacefully at home August 25, 2013, at the age of 96.
He was born July 26, 1917, in Longview, to Maurice and Effie Rule Durham Bivins. In 1935, Durham graduated from Longview High School. He was one of two students at Longview High School to be the first in the school's history to letter in four sports - football, track, basketball and tennis.
After attending Kemper Military School and playing football for Kemper for two years, he continued his education at Baylor University and graduated in 1940 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Durham was the leading scorer in the Southwest conference as a running back during his junior year for the Baylor Bears. He remained an ardent alum of Baylor University his entire life.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Durham enlisted in the U.S. Army
. He attended Officers' Candidates School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was stationed with the 6th Armored Division at Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he rose to the rank of captain. He served with the 20th Armored Division in Europe, which valiantly joined in the final drive to defeat Germany in 1945. While in Germany, he served as a Liaison Officer between two Combat Command Generals of the Division and received a Bronze Star
Upon returning from World War II
, Durham and his brother, Jim, bought and operated the Longview Ice Manufacturing Company. Their company was the primary provider of refrigeration for Texas and Pacific Railway trains as well as being the source of refrigeration for residential homes and commercial businesses in Longview. The company discontinued operation when electrical refrigeration replaced the need for ice.
Durham was a natural athlete. Sports played an important role throughout his life. His love of golf began at age 10 when he caddied at Pinecrest Country Club. At the age of 14 he began playing the game of golf, which he continued to enjoy as an avid golfer until he was 90 years old. Throughout the years he loved the camaraderie, fun and competition of the game. He particularly enjoyed playing with his brother Jim, and both Durham and Jim were club champions.
After many years in sales at Pegues Hurst Ford Motor Company, Durham retired in 1990. He was a longtime member of Pinecrest Country Club as well as a member, for twenty years, of the Cornerstone Sunday school class at the First Christian Church. Through the church, he volunteered for Meals on Wheels.
He is survived by Geneva Tucker Bivins, his wife of 49 years; his daughter, Betty "Twinkle" Duncan and son-in-law, Dr. S. Edwin Duncan of Tyler; his daughter, Sally Thurtell and son-in-law, Jim Thurtell of Dallas; and his stepson, Joel Riley and stepdaughter-in-law, Sue Riley of Plano. Grandchildren are Clay Duncan and his wife, Dr. Kelly Duncan of Houston, Claire Duncan Reynolds and her husband, Walt Reynolds of Fort Worth, Bruner Smith Dyer and his wife, Melissa Dyer of Lakewood, Colorado, Allen Thurtell of New York, Trenton Riley of San Diego, Calif., Rachel Ellsworth and her husband, Steve, of Pearland and Regan Rawlinson of Rowlett. Great-grandchildren are Knox Duncan of Houston, Jacqueline Reynolds and Duncan Reynolds of Fort Worth and Carson Ellsworth and Tanner Ellsworth of Pearland. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Marjorie Bivins of Longview; his nephew, Craig Bivins of Dallas; and niece, Louise Bivins of Dallas.
The family would like to especially thank caregivers, Ruby Brown, Josie Guijarra, Hope Pollard and Silve Reyes for their constant concern and loving care. The family also greatly appreciates the care administered by the medical staff of Heart'sWay Hospice.
The family will be having a private burial today, August 29, 2013. A memorial service for Durham will be 2 p.m. Saturday, September 14, 2013, at First Christian Church in Longview. All friends and family are invited to attend the celebration of his life.
Memorials may be sent to Heart'sWay Hospice of Northeast Texas, 4351 McCann Rd., Longview, TX 75605 or the