January 22, 2021
Cindy Durham (nee Marcene Louan Renken), age 94, passed away from natural causes on January 22, 2021, in Bellevue, WA, having lived life to its fullest. Cindy was born and raised on a farm near Talmage, Nebraska. With her father's encouragement, she traveled to Lincoln to study at the Sophy Teeter School of Nursing with the goal of becoming a flight attendant. She proudly served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, becoming a registered nurse in 1948 and keeping current with educational requirements her whole life.
While working as a nurse, she met Leonard ("Len") E. Durham, the love of her life, who became an Officer in the U.S. Air Force. They were married for 65 years until Len's passing in 2012. Being a military wife suited Cindy, pursuing her lifelong passion for travel. Together they served tours across the world including Japan, France, California, Hawaii and D.C. In 2007, they moved to Madison, Wisconsin to be near their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. In 2015, Cindy moved to Bellevue, Washington to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren. Cindy visited all 50 states and all 7 continents and meticulously documented her travels. Her children and grandchildren continue her legacy of travel.
Cindy's homes were tastefully designed with touches of Japanese and French culture. In Fairfax, VA, she won many Surrey Square holiday decoration awards. She hosted exchange students and corresponded with friends from all over the world.
Cindy was very active in her children's lives providing them with the opportunities she never had on the farm. Her children achieved the highest scouting honors, were encouraged to learn musical instruments and pursue higher education. Cindy was the original "soccer mom", rooting for her children, grandchildren, and their teammates.
Cindy worked as a volunteer at the White House Correspondence Office for 37 years under 7 different administrations from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. Coming from a small Nebraska farm, she never dreamed of having lunch in the East Room, participating in the White House Easter Egg Rolls and greeting dignitaries. She was modest, hardworking, polite, well-dressed, and an engaging conversationalist. She test drove sports cars, loved dogs, celebrated birthdays with enthusiasm, and laughed often! She loved her grandchildren unconditionally and they were devoted to her. Cindy touched many lives and will be greatly missed by all.
Cindy is survived by her 3 children: Kay of Oregon, James (Cathy) of Wisconsin, and Ann of Washington; 5 grandchildren: Ashley, Drake, Aleah, Lincoln and Renna; 4 great-grandchildren: Rowan, Anna, Clark and Claire; her sister Joan Larsen and her husband Lee of Papillion, Nebraska; her nieces, Cindy Rose and Sheri of Nebraska, and her petite golden-doodle, Bentley. She is predeceased by her husband Len and her grandson Nathan ("Nate") Cowan.
Cindy will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery next to Len. Memorials are suggested to PAWS or UNMC College of Nursing.