Gerard Durand
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Gerard A. Durand SUFFOLK - Gerard Arthur "Jerry" Durand, 93, died Aug. 7, 2008, surrounded by his devoted family at Sentara Obici Hospital after a short illness. Born in Putnam, Conn., Aug. 26, 1914, where he spent his childhood, Jerry attended the Connecticut Trade School's program on aviation mechanics in 1932, a new program of study. For the next several years, Jerry was employed by aviation companies all over the country, including Piper Aviation, Chance-Voight, Sikorsky, Argonaut, Rearwin Aviation, Porterfield Aircraft Corporation and TWA. At Piper Aviation, the owner wanted every employee to fly. Jerry soloed in less than five hours, but motion sickness plagued him throughout his life, and as a result, he gave up flying. At Porterfield Aviation, in Kansas City, Mo., Jerry built an entire experimental, two-seater, one-engine airplane, except for the wooden wings. The company called the aircraft the Porterfield Zephyr and showed the new plane off at the National Aviation show at Grand Central Palace in New York City. It was while working at Porterfield that Jerry met Lila "Dean" Robinson, the love of his life. They were married April 7, 1937, nine months after they met. They moved to Norfolk in 1939 when Jerry accepted a job as an aircraft welder at the Norfolk Naval Air Station, where he worked in a civil service position with opportunity for regular advancement until his retirement 30 years later. After America entered World War II Dec. 7, 1941, with a shortage of airplane mechanics, Jerry developed a curriculum and taught basic aircraft repair in the evenings to classrooms of women at Virginia Technical College, later called Old Dominion College. In addition to his classes in aircraft repair, he taught welding to both men and women until 1955. When Jerry retired from the air station, his title was superintendent of Structural Repair, with 500 people working under him. In 1943, Jerry started a welding business, the "shop," and until 1970, when he retired from the Norfolk Naval Air Station, worked by day at the Air Station and evenings and weekends at the shop. He welded for Joe Weatherly, a NASCAR championship racer, and for many others involved with NASCAR; worked after the war at repairing wrecked private planes with the help of two lifelong friends, Donald Beek and Emmett Griffin; and eventually doing the major business of designing, making and installing custom ornamental wrought iron work for builders. After Jerry retired in 1970, he and Dean traveled in their pickup truck, with their boat secured on top and towing their trailer, about nine months of the year for 30 years crisscrossing the United States and Canada. They made friends along the way and kept them for a lifetime. They photographed birds, flowers, western scenes and wildlife. Gerard used some of his best in articles he wrote and had published in Modern Maturity, N.A.R.T. Journal, Grit and Design Magazine, as well as recreational vehicle magazines and guide books. They fished in all the rivers, lakes and streams along the way. After Jerry's wife of 67 years, Dean, died in 2004, Jerry enjoyed being with his family for dinners, cruises and trips to Michigan where some of his grandchildren live. He especially loved flying to Texas, Ohio and Michigan with his grandson, Joe Nell, in Joe's Mooney plane. Two years ago, he moved from Norfolk to Lake Prince Woods in Suffolk and attended St. Mary's Catholic Church. Jerry was predeceased by his wife, Dean; his sisters, Sylvia Bellerose, Bernadette Kemp and Anita Mueller; and his brother-in-law, Walter Robinson. Left to cherish his memory are his four daughters, Mary Ann and husband Ronald Balding of Virginia Beach, Geraldine Eller of Chesapeake, Anita and husband Terry Oakey of Portsmouth and Jackie and husband Ernest Glinka of Baltimore; five sons, Gerard Durand of Suffolk, Michael Durand and wife Mary Jo of New Bern, N.C., Jean Edward "Pete" Durand and wife Cherry of Atlanta, Ronald Durand and wife PJ of Chesapeake and James Durand and wife Carol of Norfolk; and many nieces and nephews. He was known as Pappo to more than 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A visitation will be held Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. with a prayer service at 6 p.m. by Father Thomas Quinlan at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, 1501 Colonial Ave., Norfolk. A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m. in Christ the King Catholic Church in Norfolk followed by interment at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. A reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christ the King Catholic Church, 3401 Tidewater Drive, Norfolk, VA 23509. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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Published in The Virginian-Pilot on Aug. 9, 2008.
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Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
August 21, 2008
You will be missed Papo. I met Jerry as a very young girl in Otter Falls, Manitoba Canada. He and dean became a big part of my life for over 20 years. The final year they travelled to Canada was so that they could be here for my wedding and my brothers Grad. I have wedding pictures of Mamo & Papo that I will cherish for ever.
Angela Perreault (nee: Guay)
August 15, 2008
I have so many happy memories of Papo and Mamo and spending time with them at their house and other family gatherings. They both were so kind and loving that its really hard to speak of one without including the other. Papo was one of a kind. There will never be anyone else like him. I loved him very much and will miss him very much.
Tami Friend
August 12, 2008
The loss of someone so close is difficult to bear. We share your grief.
Dr James Alan Taylor & Staff
August 11, 2008
I Love you will greatly be missed...please look over us and keep us safe!! i will see you in heaven! give mamo a kiss for me!
Chelsea Harris
August 11, 2008
Kathy Ellis Slavin
August 9, 2008
jeff nell
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