Mary Dolores Durkin
1927 - 2020
Dr. Mary Dolores Durkin, age 92, passed away peacefully on Monday, July 6, 2020, following a brief illness. She was born in Chicago on July 28, 1927, to Nora T. (Deacy) and William H. Durkin. She is preceded in death by her siblings Herbatine (Hartray), Reverend Eugene, William, and Rosemarie (Cargie). She is survived by her sister-in-law, Mary Durkin (Dunne), and three generations of nieces and nephews. Dr. Durkin was a widely respected educational researcher whose work significantly impacted the ways in which reading is taught in the early elementary grades. She attended the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, where she earned a B.S. degree and completed her Ph.D. in 1957. Her career began at the University of California, Berkley. She then joined the faculty at Columbia University, New York, and ultimately returned to the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, where she served as Professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education and Senior Scientist of the Center for the Study of Reading. Her extensive research on what came to be known as reading comprehension instruction led to the publication of journal articles, book chapters, and multiple textbooks on the topic. Dr. Durkin also served as an educational consultant for the Carnegie Corporation on the project contributing to the development of Sesame Street. She received the prestigious William S. Gray Citation of Merit, awarded to members of the International Literacy Association who have made outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development, and was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1985. She retired from academia in 1993, but continued to consult on educational textbooks and accept speaking engagements. She was a devoted daughter who spent many years caring for her mother, and a devout Catholic who lived a life of faith. Dr. Durkin attributed her professional success to the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and she considered herself blessed to have been called to a profession which she loved so dearly, "that never, not even for a day, ever felt like work." A Mass of celebration will be offered for family members at St. John of the Cross Church in Western Springs on July 13. Burial was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.

Arrangements entrusted to Robert J. Sheehy & Sons Funeral Homes 708-857-7878

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Published by Chicago Tribune on Jul. 12, 2020.
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On behalf of Fr. Scott Donahue and Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Mary Dolores Durkin.
May the angels lead her into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome her and take her to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
August 11, 2020
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Durkin. She greatly influenced my professional life and was a wonderful mentor beyond my time at Illinois.
Mary Roe
July 18, 2020
Your Aunt and my Dad and (Al Durkin Sr Gwendolyn) were first cousins. My Grandfather and William Durkin were brothers. Your Aunt Delores was an immense resource to me in college in 1970 when I switched into special education . My dad would be in Champaign on business and visit with her and collect materials from. Fr Gene officiated at my wedding 1973. So I say a prayer for deceased second cousins. God bless all of you!
Mary Kay Durkin Doyle
July 12, 2020