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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

J. Frank Durham

Monday, May 23, 2011

Attorney, author and aviator J. Frank Durham, 95, passed away Friday, May 20, 2011 at home, following a short illness.

Born Oct. 3, 1915 in Greencastle to Andrew E. and Aura Sawyer Durham, he practiced probate law for the better part of 70 years.

At age 15, Durham attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire on a scholarship. He graduated from Greencastle High School in 1933, DePauw University in 1937 and Indiana University Law School in 1941.

He was a Navy veteran of World War II, serving in bomb disposal on Guadalcanal and instructing the proper handling of explosive ordnance at the National Air Technical Training Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

He wrote a memoir on his wartime experiences titled "You Only Blow Yourself Up Once." The followed the published anthology of vintage family letters titled "Epistles from Pap" and a chapter as "guest writer" in "A Very Private Pilot" by Loren McDonald.

Serving in the naval reserve after the war, Durham chaired a committee that secured a captured German V-1 rocket, which was mounted on a limestone base on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn in Greencastle as a memorial to local veterans who died in the war. He recently established a financial endowment for the monument's care and maintenance.

Durham was elected to two terms as Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney and tow as Greencastle City Judge, and declined an invitation to run for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket.

He was a single engine pilot who flew his own plane to Alaska seven times, visiting lifetime friend V. Maury Smith. His Cessna 182, bearing the insignia "The Legal Eagle" was kept in a hangar on the family farm in Russellville, where his airstrip was located. He enjoyed working around the farm when not practicing law. He was a trust officer and vice president of the former Russellville Bank, a model railroad hobbyist and recently took up woodworking.

Durham was married to Frances Haberkorn in 1944. She died in 1975. In 1980, Durham remarried Elaine Eide Moe of Sacramento, Calif. That marriage ended in divorce.

He is survived by his sister Aura M. Durham, sons Andrew H. Durham and George B. Durham, daughters Madeleine D. Thomas and Stephanie Durham and 10 grandchildren.

Durham was preceded in death by his parents, wife Frances and four of his five sisters, Joanna McGaughey, Jane Anderson, Margaret Durham and Ann D. Weinrichter.

Cremation arrangements were by Machledt & Services Funeral Home, Waveland. A family service was followed by interment at Forest Hill Cemetery, Greencastle.