ABILENE, Texas - Marshall Pershing Durham Sr., 94, an Abilene businessman, died at home Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. He was married to Zoie Brantley Durham, who preceded him in death in 2009.
A native of Burlington, N.C. Mr. Durham came to Texas in 1941, in service of his country in the war. Following duty as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 46th Field Artillery Brigade, he trained as a pilot in the U.S. Army
Air Corps, receiving his wings in October, 1944. His first pilot assignment was to train Allied Chinese bombardier/navigator officers in Beech AT-11 twin-engine bombers. At the end of the war, he had been assigned to B-29 training. Following his 1945 discharge from active duty, Mr. Durham continued in the Air Force Reserve, resigning after 20 years with the rank of Major.
Following the war the family settled in Texas, Mrs. Durham's home state. During most of his career, Mr. Durham owned an independent insurance agency in Abilene. In later years he managed his brother's stock farm and pecan orchard near Brownwood, Texas. Mr. Durham and his wife also travelled extensively.
Mr. Durham joined the armed services one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At that time, he was in the fourth year of Wake Forest College's (now University's) five years combined baccalaureate and lawyer degree program. Although his education was interrupted by the war, Marshall later completed his B.A. degree through Northwestern International University.
His children, Marshall Jr. and Janis Durham, David and Sindy Durham, and Elizabeth and Donald Davies, survive him. Grandchildren are Tiffany Durham, Kim Durham and Rob Mendiola, Trace and Sharon Durham, Wendy Durham, Andrew and Analie Durham, Scott and Luanne Davies and Chris Davies. Great-grandchildren are Marshall, Braden and Bennett Durham, Sam, Annemarie and Caroline Davies, and William Davies, and Dutch and Zoie Freese, and Chloe Isabella Mendiola.
Mr. Durham was preceded in death by great-grandson, Thomas (Bingo) Durham; parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.C. (Rose Bunton) Durham; and brother Lynn D. Durham of Midland, Texas.
Mr. Durham loved his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. They had a bond that only children can cement, and each of them lovingly called him Marshall.
In recent years, Marshall was professionally and devotedly cared for by Pearl Jamison, Pebble Evans and Visiting Angels caregivers. The family expresses deep gratitude to Dr. William F. Shudde and the Hendrick Hospice Care staff.
Mr. Durham was a member of First United Methodist Church, Abilene, American Legion, and Alcoholics Anonymous.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the First United Methodist Church, 1318 South 2nd Street, Abilene, Texas 79602.
Graveside services will be held at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the Newsom Cemetery on Mrs. Durham's homesteaded land (Hickory Grove Ranch) in Mason County, Texas. Officiating will be Dr. Bill Libby. A reception will follow at the restored 1870 hickory log cabin.
Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas.
Online condolences may be posted at www.HamilFamilyFuneralHome.com