James A. Durham, Jr., age 88, devoted husband, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully into the loving arms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His loving wife of sixty years having passed on to be with our Lord on March 2, 2013, leaving Jim to be cared for at the end by his sons Jim, III and John.
Jim was born in Knoxville, Tennessee to James A. and Elle Eppes Durham. His father died in 1939 from pneumonia and in 1942 he and his mother moved to Washington, D.C.to live with his father’s sister and family where his mother became employed at the Washington Navy Yard in a clerical position.
After attending elementary school in Washington for one year, Jim and his mother returned to Tennessee where he continued his education. He studied music privately and played clarinet in school bands and in a local Shrine band. He also served as school bugler while attending Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater.
Jim’s mother was remarried in 1944 to Thomas J. Williams; they resided in Knoxville until Jim’s enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1949. He was serving in an infantry unit on Okinawa in 1950 when the Korean War began, and on August 3, 1950, soon after arriving in Korea he suffered a gunshot wound that required his evacuation to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Following his return to active duty he was assigned to a medical unit at Walter Reed where he remained until his Honorable discharge in September 1952. While in Washington, he met his bride-to-be, Miss Bobbie Johnson; they were married on June 6, 1953. He enrolled in the University of Tennessee, College of Education following his discharge and received his baccalaureate degree in 1955. He began his teaching career as a high school band and choral director in Englewood, Tennessee, and upon earning a master’s degree from UT in 1958, Jim, Bobbie, and son Jim III moved to Florida where their second son, John was born.
Jim continued teaching music and other subjects and became assistant principle of a junior high school and helped bring educational television to Pensacola, bother in the public schools and at Pensacola Junior College. IN 1965, Jim was invited to become the Registrar at the new junior college in Valparaiso, FL. He remained at this college serving in numerous positions. He earned his Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1970. In 1969, the College moved into new facilities in Niceville, FL while Jim was away on sabbatical working on his doctorate. Upon his return he assumed other positions including Dean of Instruction. He retired in 1997 as Vice President for Instruction and was named Emeritus VP for Instruction.
In 1967, Jim became a Master Mason and held a number of offices in the Fraternity over the years, including Worshipful Master and secretary of his Lodge, District Deputy Grand Master and eventually Grand Master of Masons for the Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of Florida in 2002-2003. He was awarded the Scottish Rite Honorary 33rd Degree and the York Rite Cross of Honor. He was a member of Hadji Shrine and Zelica Grotto in Pensacola and a member of the Military Order of Purple Heart.
Jim is survived by his two sons, James III and John(Lisa) and two beautiful granddaughters, Jessica Ann of Akron, OH, Jim’s daughter and John’s daughter Jana Arien Durham of Prattville, AL. Jim is also survived by Barbara Woodard, Betty Wolfe, Betty Houston of Knoxville and Bill Eppes of Oak Ridge, TN, and Nancy Maloney of Dothan, AL. Extended family includes Carolyn Durham, John Hall (Jenci), Lindsay Hall Lawellin (Nate), Misty Harris, Daniel Thurman and Heather Thurman.
The funeral service will be September 21st at Crosspoint Church, 214 Partin Drive, Niceville, FL. Visitation starts at 1:30 PM with services to be held at 2:30 PM, Rev. Jeremy Smith and Rev. Dr. Herstel Carter are officiating. Burial will follow in the Heritage Gardens Cemetery. A Masonic Funeral Service by Okaloosa Lodge No. 312 will also be held at Heritage Gardens Cemetery.
Floral arrangements and expressions of love and sympathy are accepted at Heritage Gardens Funeral Home. Suggestion for contributions in Jim’s memory: the James and Bobbie Durham Teaching Scholarship Fund at NWF State College, or to a charity of choice.
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