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Mary Margaret (Whalen) Durando

1924 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
MARY MARGARET (WHALEN) DURANDO After a dignified and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease, Mary Margaret (Whalen) Durando died peacefully on May 2, 2014 in Chico, CA surrounded by her three children. She was born Mary Margaret Yoksh on February 22, 1924 in Los Angeles, CA. After a childhood in Needles, CA, shared with her grandparents, mother and two sisters, all of whom preceded her in death, she moved with her family to Fresno, CA. A graduate of Roosevelt High School, Mary Margaret earned her Bachelor's Degree at University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, and then returned to Fresno where she worked at Hammer Field during World War II. It was there that she met her first husband, Jim Whalen, a prominent attorney, who died in 1956. She pursued a career in education, including teaching positions at Sacred Heart, Fresno State College Laboratory and Sierra Elementary Schools, capping her career as a reading expert and education consultant for the Fresno County Department of Education. During her tenure at Fresno State, she obtained a Master's Degree from that school and pioneered a groundbreaking approach to teaching reading in a non-graded primary class setting. She married Virgil Durando, a farmer, in 1966, living in Friant until their divorce in 1977. For 32 years, she thrived at her home in the foothills above Millerton Lake where she lived through her retirement that began in 1989. She relocated to Chico, CA in 2009, with the last 16 months of her life under the compassionate and loving care of Amber Grove Place, an Alzheimer's and Memory Support Community in Chico. Mary Margaret was a beautiful and amazing person who always faced life with grace, gratitude, love and laughter, and enjoyed vacationing with her family at the coasts of Mendocino, CA and Cape Hatteras, NC. She was a charter member of the St. Agnes Hospital Service Guild, and was a longtime supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She is survived by her three children, Ann Smith of Portland, OR, Melissa Hardesty of Chico, CA, and Michael Durando of Potomac Falls, VA, who, joined by her five grandchildren, other beloved family members and friends, will miss her loving presence. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2014, followed by a luncheon reception at The Shrine of St. Therese Catholic Church in Fresno. Remembrances in her name may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (www.stjude.org) (800-805-5856) using Tribute #35956660.
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on June 1, 2014
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