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Charles W Durrett


1931 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Charles W. Durrett, 85
Is There a Fishin' Hole in Heaven?

You better believe there is! Charlie's motto was "onward and upward!" He loved life and lived life with a passion, always with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. From being hauled on a knapsack while his mama was pickin' cotton, to arguing before the United States Supreme Court, Charlie had a life filled with pursuit and ambition.

Charlie was born on October 6, 1931, in Trinchera, Colorado, and passed away in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on October 18, 2016. His parents were Walter and Lucia (Ward) Durrett, and he was one of seven siblings. They moved to Melrose, NM, and then Portales in his early years. While his parents had little education, they encouraged upper education and the children met expectations. He spent the summers of junior high living in tent camps and building roads with his dad and brothers. In high school he worked as a truck driver for a construction company, as a service station attendant, and as an equipment operator. The family also had a mechanic's shop in the back of their home. In eighth grade he met Sunnye Gene Lee, a dairy and farmer's girl. This was also when he decided that he wanted to be an attorney. They dated through high school and married after graduation on September 4, 1950. From 1951 through 1954, he served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War, and discharged as a First Lieutenant. Following discharge, Charlie and Gene lived in Florida, where he started college in the fall. In February of 1955, after experiencing the heat and humidity and high tuition rates, Gene was flown home and Charlie packed up their belongings in a trailer and drove to Portales, New Mexico, where Lisa was born on March 10, 1955. He transferred immediately to Eastern New Mexico University, and after obtaining the necessary prerequisites, the family moved to Albuquerque so that he could attend the University of New Mexico School of Law. He worked as a service station attendant for income, and Gene worked at the law firm of Toulouse and Marchiondo to garner the skills to help run a law office. Lisa went to preschool. In 1959, Charlie graduated from law school and the little family relocated to Alamogordo, which was known for the best school system in the state. Lori was born June 18, 1960. They quickly became active members of the community. When Charlie realized that his first partner in a law practice was with an unsavory character, his good friend George Zimmerman lent him $100 to open his own law practice, and he and Gene opened their own office. Over the years he had many wonderful and professional law partners, some of whom include John Joe Wilkinson, Lorna Shipley, Jack Whorton, John Conway, Tom Sandenaw, Wayne Jordan, Sandra Grisham, Mel O'Reilley, Tom Cornish, and his all-time favorite, daughter Lisa Durrett. He and Lisa evaluated, tried and settled many many many lawsuits together over the years.

Charlie always loved politics and was a pioneer Republican as the party developed in Otero County. He made two unsuccessful runs for office in the 60's, for D.A. when Otero and Dona Ana counties were one district, and then for State Representative. Dan Sosa, later to become a Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of New Mexico, beat him in the D.A.'s race, and George Fettinger in the run for State Representative, both winning by slight margins. He remained good friends of both for life. Thereafter, he encouraged other members of his firms and party to run for political office and most were successful.

Charlie was a devoted husband, father, son, brother, uncle, granddad and great granddad. He was always a great sport, and in the words of one of his best friends, "you will never know how much he did for others that went untold." He was a good friend to many. He was always an avid sportsman and athlete, but his most enduring and favorite sport was fishing. He was a tournament bass fisherman, a competitive deep-sea fisherman, and enjoyed stream fishing and flyfishing. He had two deep-sea fishing boats over the years in San Carlos, Mexico, one of which was the Caruso owned with his good friend and colleague, Paul Butt, of Albuquerque. He jointly owned a cabin and bass fishing boat with a group of friends called Diez Amigos, at Lake Novillo in Sonora, Mexico, and he enjoyed lots and lots of fishing at Gene's and his cabin at Elephant Butte. He absolutely loved seeing the sun come up on the lake. He enjoyed many travels around the world and wherever he was, he always managed to find a fishing pole and sidetrip. He held positions in Alamogordo Bassmasters, and Sun Country Bass Association (which he helped found), and promoted and was the second president of the NM Bass Federation, and helped launch the Alamo Open, the largest annual open bass tournament in NM. Other activities he enjoyed were hunting (rifle, shotgun and bow and arrow), backpacking, extended traveling, gourmet cooking and grilling and pitting, several years of his Good Time Charlie's Chili Fiesta, and piloting his airplane. He built a clay potter's wheel and he and Gene enjoyed several years of throwing pots. Besides being a full-time law practitioner, he was an entrepreneur in other businesses, including H.T.Coker Constr. Co., and Recovery Systems Research, which designed and produced parachutes for proposals to the U.S. government, one of which was selected to land a research vehicle on Mars, but which never came to pass because the air space program was halted. He also became a licensee in direct disposition services when Lisa and husband, Kent, built the local crematory and opened for direct cremation services. He was a man of many interests and talents.

In 1992, Charlie lost Gene, his long love of 42 years of marriage. In 2000, he married Chris Watson, and they enjoyed a number of fun years fishing, golfing and traveling worldwide. He dearly loved and enjoyed her family, daughter Keri (Watson) and Tom Antram and their daughters Kali and Aubrey; daughter Jeni Watson; and "Mac" McArthur, Charlie's father-in-law, for whom he cared in their home for a few years. In 2009, Charlie retired from the practice of law, after 50 years. Much love and appreciation goes to Sindi Neudorf, staff and best friend, who began working for Charlie in 1981 as receptionist, and then became a paralegal for Charlie and Lisa, and now is manager for Lisa and Kent in their funeral home business. In September 2012, Charlie fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury, which ultimately resulted in his death, over 4 years later. He moved in with Lisa and Kent and in spite of his injury, enjoyed several years of fun and activities, including an Alaskan cruise with Lisa and Kent and Kent's parents, family reunions and gatherings in Ruidoso and at Elephant Butte, and lots of good times cooking and celebrating holidays and birthdays. He had a wonderful 85th birthday, with family and friends gathered to wish him well and sing "Happy Birthday", and he died peacefully 10 days later. While his brain injury caused aphasia, limiting his ability to speak, it did not affect his ability to sing, and his good night prayer each evening was singing "Jesus Loves Me." He was lovingly appreciative and a blessing to the very end.

Survivors include his two daughters, Lisa Durrett (Kent) House and Lori Durrett of Alamogordo; grandchildren Taylor Durrett of Portland, OR, Aubrey Durrett of Alamogordo,; Micela (Diego) House Hurtado of Lexington, KY, Mark House of Alamogordo, and Sydney Johnson of Alamogordo; great granddaughter, Larkenne Eve Hurtado of Lexington, KY; two brothers, Tom (Charlene) Durrett of Portales, NM, and Bob (Carolyn) Durrett of Ruidoso, NM; sister-in-law Wilma Durrett, of Columbia, SC; brother-in-laws Clint Ramsey of Lubbock, TX, and Bobby Wynne of Amarillo, TX, and a passel of wonderful nieces, nephews and other family and many friends. Constantly at his side, for burgers or just checking in, were his best friends Clayton White (Las Cruces) and Jack Cox (Alamogordo), who were like brothers, and Lyn and Doug Essex (his personal barber for 4 years), family friends for many years.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sunnye Gene (Lee) Durrett; parents, Walter Edward and Lucia Belle Durrett; parents-in-law Millard and Lorene Lee; grandsons, Jeffrey Wayne Horton and William Myers III; brothers, Ed Durrett and Jerry Durrett (and sister-in-law Gayla Durrett); sisters, Dorothy Burdine (and brother-in-law Rudy Burdine) and Ruth Wynne; and sister-in-law Karen Ramsey (Gene's sister).

The family wishes to extend great thanks to family and friends, too many to enumerate, who were such great supporters, the staff at Alamogordo Home Health Care and Hospice, who were wonderful in his therapies and support, and to special caregivers Deborah Bradley and Bridget Hangsleban.

A Celebration of Life reception will be held at the family home at 2403 Tres Lagos, beginning at 2 o'clock on Saturday, November 19th. The public is invited to come and go, or come and stay – with storytelling at 3 o'clock, all in accordance with Charlie's wishes. 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(Lisa). The Durrett family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Alamogordo Funeral Home, Inc. Cremation has taken place at PCS, and inurnment for Charlie and Gene will take place at a later date at the Durrett family plot in Portales, New Mexico.
Vaya con Dios from Charlie! Charlie's gone fishin'!
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Nov. 12 to Dec. 11, 2016
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