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J.R. "Jake" Durham Obituary

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J.R. "Jake" Durham

Norton, KS

August 22, 1928 - June 24, 2020

J.R. "Jake" Durham Obituary

IN LOVING MEMORY OF J.R. "JAKE" DURHAM J.R. "Jake" Durham, son of Joe and Eva (Ragan) Durham, was born August 22, 1928, in Granite City, Illinois, and passed away in Norton, Kansas, on June 24, 2020, at the age of 91. J.R. grew up in Granite City where he was very active in wrestling as a three-year-letterman, captain of the team and had two undefeated dual seasons. Following high school, J.R. continued his wrestling career at Arkansas State University which was in its first year of a wrestling program. J.R. lettered and was captain of the team all four years and was a two-time All American and National AAU Champion. He also attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. J.R. met his future wife, Ruth Anita Robinson, at Arkansas State where she was a co-ed and cheerleader. They were married December 24, 1951, in Piggott, Arkansas. J.R. enlisted in the U.S. Army where he spent 2½ years and served in Korea as a platoon leader with the famed 27th Infantry (Wolfhound) Regiment of the 25th division. While in the army, J.R. was given the name "Jake" which stayed with him the rest of his life. Following his discharge from the army where he obtained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, he continued his service in the Army Reserves and the Kansas National Guard, retiring after 29 years as a Lt. Colonel. Jake taught school in Piggott where he was the assistant high school football coach and junior high principal and teacher. His plans were to get his Masters degree in school administration but a call from his college wrestling coach put him in touch with the principal of Norton Community High School. Principal Gerald Travis offered Jake the job of wrestling coach and they moved to Norton in 1955. Jake taught P.E., American History and Driver's Ed and also coached track teams but he is best known and loved for his years as the head wrestling coach where he led his teams to numerous championships and wins at the local, regional, and state levels. Jake was also very active in the Norton community. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, a member and past commander of the Post #63 Harmonson-Redd Amercian Legion, VFW, Chamber of Commerce, member and past president of the Lion's club and the men's and couple's bridge clubs. Jake organized the Norton Veteran's Day parade for over 50 years and also started the Norton Little Kid's Wrestling program. Survivors include: his wife, Ruth Durham, Norton; two sons, Joseph (Sara) Durham, Cimarron, Kansas; James Durham, (friend, Sue Ann Stutheit,) Norton; one grandson, Jordan (Victoria) Durham, Mt. Dora, Florida; one great-grandson, Julian Michael Durham, Mt. Dora, Florida; one sister, Sarah Carver, Waterloo, Illinois; three sisters-in-law, Paula Hollis, Jonesboro, Arkansas; Judy Heaton Robinson, Springfield, Missouri; Amanda Dalton Lane, Germantown, Tennessee; six nieces and seven nephews; other relatives and many friends. Jake was preceded in death by his parents, one son, Daniel Jay, one brother, George "Bull" (Joan) Durham, one sister, Betty Jo (Walter) Polka, one sister-in-law, Tica (Gus) Camp, three brothers-in-law, John Richard Robinson, Fred Hollis and Duane Lane, and four nephews, Steve Polka, Charles "Chuck" Dalton, Richard "Ricky" Robinson and Steve Dalton. FUNERAL SERVICE – Thursday, July 2, 2020 – 11:00 a.m. PLACE – First United Methodist Church – Norton, KS INTERMENT – Thursday, July 2, 2020 – 1:30 p.m. PLACE – Norton Cemetery – Norton KS VISITATION – Wednesday, July 1, 2020 – 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. PLACE – Enfield Funeral Home – 215 W. Main – Norton, KS MEMORIAL – Jake Durham Scholarship Fund through the Norton County Community Foundation at Due to the Covid issue – the guidelines for the national Methodist Church requires you to wear a mask if attending the service inside the church.

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Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of J.R. "Jake" Durham.