Sunday, July 01, 2007

Paul Durham, Father of Linfield Athletics, Memorial Set for Monday July 2, 2007

Story below is a Linfield Sports Info news release

Jul-01-2007 16:16

Paul Durham, Father of Linfield Athletics, Memorial Set for Monday

Durham was Linfield's head football coach for 20 seasons, compiling a record of 122 victories, 51 defeats and 10 ties for a .694 winning percentage.

Paul Durham photo
Photo courtesy: Linfield Athletics

A memorial service for Coach Paul Durham is scheduled for Monday, July 2, at 1:00 p.m. in Ted Wilson Gym at Linfield College in McMinnville.

Durham, one of the founding fathers of Linfield athletics, died Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii, at age 93.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations be made to the Paul Durham Fund for the Support of Athletics at Linfield, attention College Relations, 900 SE Baker Street, McMinnville, OR 97128.
The annual Paul Durham players reunion will be held as scheduled Wednesday, July 11, in Riley Center on the Linfield campus.
Reminiscing begins at 10:30 a.m., lunch at noon, open-mike program at 12:45 p.m.
The cost of the lunch is $15 at the door.
Please RSVP to Pat Smith at (503) 656-3724.
Durham was Linfield's head football coach for 20 seasons, compiling a record of 122 victories, 51 defeats and 10 ties for a .694 winning percentage. (In his final 12 years (“once I got the hang of it,” he said), the Wildcats went 90-16-6 (.830), won six Northwest Conference championships and reached the national championship game of the NAIA twice.
His 1956 team started the string of 51 consecutive winning seasons that continues to this day and is the national record at all levels of college football.
Durham was inducted into six athletics Halls of Fame, including the charter class of the Linfield Hall of Fame in 1998.
He also was inducted into the Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame in 2001, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, the NAIA Football Hall of Fame in 1969, the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame and the University of Hawaii Circle of Honor in 1997.
He also was nominated for the national College Football Hall of Fame.
He was chosen NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) football Coach of the Year in 1962 and Oregon Man of the Year in 1961.
For three seasons (1949-1952), Durham and Oregon baseball Hall of Fame member Roy Helser were co-coaches of men's basketball. One of those teams won the Northwest Conference championship.
In 1961, Durham's football Wildcats capped the first unbeaten, untied regular season in school history with a trip to the "Camellia Bowl" in Sacramento, Calif.
Linfield was the first college from the Northwest Conference to participate in the NAIA football playoffs. The Wildcats lost a hard-fought national championship game, 12-7 to rugged Pittsburg State of Kansas.
Linfield again finished unbeaten and untied in 1965 and defeated Sul Ross State of Texas 30-27 in the NAIA semifinals before losing to St. John's of Minnesota 33-0 in the NAIA "Champion Bowl" in Augusta, Ga.
In the season-opening game of 1967, Durham took the Wildcats to Honolulu, where they upset the University of Hawaii, 15-13, at rainy Honolulu Stadium before a Honolulu Stadium crowd of about 20,000 - still the most ever to see a Linfield game.
Hawaii was so impressed with Durham and the Wildcats that it hired him away from Linfield in 1968 to direct its athletic program. He guided the ambitious Rainbows from lower-level competition into NCAA Division I.
Durham stepped down as athletic director in 1975 for health reasons but taught in the Hawai'i College of Education until his retirement in 1981.
The foyer that serves as main entryway into the Linfield athletics complex, completed in 1989, is named in Durham's honor.
He was a star athlete at Linfield in the 1930s, competing in football, basketball and track and field, and is one of the few Wildcats in history to earn 10 letters.
Durham graduated from Linfield in 1936 and he received his master's degree from the University of Oregon in 1941.
He then coached at high schools in Yamhill and Portland - Commerce (now called Cleveland) and Franklin (his alma mater) - before returning to the college 12 years later to coach football. A year later, in 1949, he was appointed Linfield director of athletics.
Durham was a Renaissance man.
Not only did he coach and teach (he taught health classes in addition to the life lessons he imparted on the football field), Durham read widely, sang in choirs and as a soloist, was an accomplished formal speaker, a wonderful story and joke teller (the Honolulu Quarterback Club's weekly meetings were officially opened when he told a joke) with a deep, booming voice.
“He was an incredible person whose positive impact reached far beyond Maxwell Field and Manoa for more than 60 years,” said Chuck Charnquist, long-time Portland Trailblazers official and former Linfield sports information director.
Durham received a small scholarship to attend Linfield as the nation sank into the Great Depression. He earned a free room by working at the original Macy's Funeral Home in McMinnville. “I shared a bed with another football player,” Durham said. “In those days, two guys sleeping in the same bed did not raise any eyebrows.”
Raising a family (sons Jeff and Terry and daughter Cathy) on a small-college coach's salary was a challenge, so Durham augmented his income in many other ways.
During summers -- in addition to teaching classes at Linfield -- he ran the McMinnville city recreation program - overseeing activities in the city park during the day and softball games at night.
And, he was sports editor of the then-daily local newspaper, the McMinnville News-Register. He wrote a popular sports column, "Dodging with Durham."
One observer opined that Durham might have been the only college football coach in America who was never criticized in print by the local sports editor.
He was chosen First Citizen of McMinnville by the Chamber of Commerce and was elected president of the Linfield Alumni Association and honored as Alumnus of the Year.
Durham's deep baritone singing voice was in great demand. He sang in the choir at the First Baptist Church on Sunday mornings and picked up a little extra cash singing popular hymns like “How Great Thou Art” at funerals at Macy's.
Durham’s second wife, Kitty Chang, died in Honolulu in 1994.
His first wife, Amelia “Litz” Durham, a former Linfield bookstore employee, died in Oregon in 2004.
“Coach” is survived by three children, Jeff of Tigard, Terry of Beaverton, and Cathy Devine of Chicago, Ill., seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren (with two more on the way) and more friends and admirers than could ever be counted.

Carla Atkinson July 18, 2007 10:31 am
Paul Durham was my uncle. I would like to add that besides the wonderful things he accomplished as an athletic director, the family side of Uncle Paul was equally as important. Paul was a Christian man who lived his beliefs in his kindness, words of encouragement to the children in the family, and the manner in which he left everyone feeling good. He was a great son and his parents were blessed by his enthusiasm, talent and great humor every day of their life. He made family gatherings fun with his practical joking and great sense of humor. He sang at my wedding 47 years ago, and has blesed my life by word, deed, and example. Through the year 2006, Uncle Paul sent us monthly cartoons and notes. I have mentored many other children in his name. We miss him.