Paul Durckel (1917 - 2013)

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Paul Henry Durckel

October 1, 1917

October 14, 2013

Paul Durckel, 96, died peacefully in Houston, Texas, Monday, October 14, 2013.

Paul was born in Oakland, California on October 1, 1917. He graduated from Stanford University in 1940.

In March 1943, he entered the US Army Air Corps as a navigator with the 781st Airborne Squadron flying combat missions over Italy and Austria. In March 1945, his B-24 was shot down and Lt. Durckel parachuted from the plane. Villagers captured him and the surviving crewmembers. Three airmen had been hanged when a pair of German soldiers on patrol arrived and took Durckel into custody. He was transported to a prisoner of war camp and finally liberated by General Patton's troops. He was awarded the E.A.M.E. with 5 Bronze Stars, four other medals and nominated for a Distinguished Flying Cross. Post-war he was promoted to captain.

On December 11, 1946 he married Meredythe Jane Gardiner of Oakland. Best Fertilizers transferred him to Houston in1948 as Vice President and General Manager. He was intrigued by the farming operations of the many G.I.'s he met in Reeves County, Texas while scouting a location for a new fertilizer plant. He purchased a farm near Pecos, Texas and raised cantaloupes, cotton and four children.

Durckel worked for American Plant Food in Galena Park, Texas from 1965 to 1969. He then moved to Gardnerville, Nevada, and worked as a real estate agent, broker and office manager. He was Acting President of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtor's from 1983 to 1984. He also served on the board of Itronics Metallurgical, Inc. He enjoyed the "service above self" fellowship of Rotary International in Pecos, Houston, and Minden.

Meredythe Gardiner Durckel in 1973 and his second wife, Jacqueline Hesse Durckel in 2006, preceded him in death. His sister, Virginia and his brother, Ronald also pre-deceased him.

He is survived by his four children and their spouses, eight grand children and five great-grand children: Kathleen Durckel Oliver, her husband, Rufus, their sons, Walker and Matthew and wife, Julie, and four children; Ellen Durckel Vestewig, husband, Robert, and daughters, Mary and Lauren Gray, with husband, Robert, and one son; Bridgette Durckel Schleicher Beinecke and sons, James and Paul Schleicher; Gardiner Paul Durckel, wife Janet, daughter, Meredythe, and son, Mason; his sister-in-law, Beverly Durckel, and daughter, Meg, and son, Cameron ,with wife, Donna, and daughter; two nephews, Bob and Mike Williams and their families and his brother-in-law, Greg P. Stark.

The family wishes to extend its deepest gratitude to the staff of Holly Hall in Houston and especially to his caregivers, Mattie Guillory and Wallace St. Hilaire.

A memorial service will be held in Gardnerville, Nevada in the future. The family requests that donations be made to a or the Minden Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 284, Minden, Nevada, 89423.

Acknowledgements or condolences may be sent to the Durckel family c/o Bridgette D. Beinecke, P.O. Box 4710 Austin, TX 78765 or via email to She will forward copies to her siblings.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Nov. 3, 2013
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