Jeffrey Richard Durham

October 13, 1951 - October 6, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Jeffrey Richard Durham

Jeffrey Richard Durham

Jeffrey “Jeff” Durham (68) died October 6, 2020, at his home in Big Timber, Montana.

Born October 13, 1951 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Richard and Vivian (Allen) Durham, Jeff was the eldest of three children. Growing up, Jeff cherished family holidays and gatherings, and Saturdays in the fall found them cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes together. Jeff served two seasons as batboy for the Cedar Rapids Cardinals Class A minor league team in the mid-1960s, and he fondly recalled summer evenings with his grandfather Harry Dixon Durham listening to St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts on KMOX.

Jeff attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, where he excelled on the baseball diamond. As a high school junior, Jeff secured his first job as a reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. This experience sparked an enthusiasm for print journalism that fueled a colorful newspaper career. Graduating from high school in 1969, Jeff attended the University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.), where he forged many lifelong friendships and met the love of his life, Kristen Bangle. The couple were married October 26, 1974 in Cottage Grove, Ore., and became a family with the births of two sons—Trevor in 1976 and Austin in 1978.

Described as a quintessential journalist, Jeff’s awardwinning journalism career and his appreciation for telling the stories of small-town America spanned five decades, transporting his family across the country where they enjoyed making friends and experiencing first-hand a tapestry of culture and landscapes together. Whether reporting early Space Shuttle landings in the Mojave Desert, covering presidential campaign tours, or directing the newsroom when the tragedy of TWA Flight 800 devastated a local community, Jeff always felt a responsibility to inform his readers fairly, accurately, with compassion and without bias. Outside of newspapers, his career also included posts as public relations manager for Oregon Trail Electric Coop in Baker City, Ore., (1989- 1994) and associate editor for Ruralite Magazine in Forest Grove, Ore. (2004-2015). He retired in August as editor of the Big Timber Pioneer.

A voracious reader, Jeff was passionate about history, geography, and travel. He enthusiastically cheered on his favorite teams—the St. Louis Cardinals, Iowa Hawkeyes, and Oregon Ducks. He was quick to strike up a conversation with anyone around him, and never met a dog or cat he didn’t like. Above all, he loved and was immensely proud of his family, and happiest when he was with Kristen, his “boys,” daughter-in-laws Dena (Robinson) Durham and Jaclyn (Kenny) Durham, and his four granddaughters.

Jeff is survived by his mother Vivian, brother Gregg Durham and sister-in-law Jeri; sister Polly (Durham) Scherrman and brother-in-law Mark; Kristen; Trevor and Dena; Austin and Jaclyn; granddaughters Reagan, Abigail, Georgia, and Grace; father and mother-in-law Ed and Mary Bangle; brother and sister-in-laws Dan and Melinda Bangle, and Larry and Vicki Bangle; nieces and nephews April (Bangle) and Scott Bacewich, Aaron and Becky Bangle, Sarah (Scherrman) and Kyle Carpenter, Sally Scherrman, Mark Scherrman, Thomas Durham and Zarana Shah, and Alan Durham; and many more family and friends. He was preceded in death by his father Richard; grandparents Harry and Neva Durham, Dorothy Peterson (Allen) and Sherman Peterson; niece Rachel Scherrman, and nephew Scott Bangle.

The family will announce a celebration of life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Jeff ’s memory can be directed to the Stafford Animal Shelter (3 Business Park Rd., Livingston, MT 59047; 406-222-2111), which welcomed Jeff ’s dear feline friend, Cali.