ILION – We lost a good one today. Mr. Arthur J. “Art” Durkin, Jr., age 94, a longtime Ilion resident, passed away peacefully on Tuesday evening, May 16, 2017, at the Mohawk Valley Health Care Center.
Born on October 29, 1922, in Granville, NY, Arthur was the son of the late Arthur J. Sr. and Margaret M. (Brown) Durkin. He moved to Ilion with his family in 1935 and finished out his education at Ilion High School, before joining the United States Army and proudly serving his country throughout WWII. After his honorable discharge from the service in 1946, Art came back home and worked for a spell at Remington Arms, before making the move out to Pasadena, California.
Art led a long and interesting life, from serving under Patton to working for Howard Hughes. While living in Pasadena, Art would golf during the day, work second shift at Hughes’ aircraft and hit up the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for martinis until dawn. Some days he’d sneak in an audition as he tried to break into the movies. Eventually he returned home to family and his home on Fourth Street, where he’d live for the next sixty years.
He worked for a time for Gross Brothers Trucking as an accountant and office manager, and then for Burt Warner in the clothing business up until 1987. His last tenure was with his brother’s liquor store, Durkin’s, where Art served as President and ran the day-to-day affairs. Art would eventually get his big break, although it was with the local theater group, he performed with for close to fifty years.
When Art’s nieces and nephews were young, he would pick them up and drive through the back roads of the valley looking for horses and cows with the kids. He was a man of many talents, who could have a pie in the oven, while up on a ladder, painting the house. He did both of these things well into his nineties. After voluntarily giving up driving, he turned to walking. His fifteen minute walk home from daily mass at the Church of the Annunciation, turned into a two hour stroll, as he would stop and chat with everyone he knew…and he knew everyone!
His family loved him dearly, as did his many friends, and he will be missed by those he leaves behind. Survivors include his brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Joan Durkin of Ilion; his many nieces and nephews, with special mention of Bill Durkin of Greeneville, SC, Beth Durkin-White and her husband, David, of Glen Ellyn, IL, and Jean Lewis of Leondardsville, NY; his great-niece, Kathryn and great-nephew, Patrick; and special cousins, Ron and Rhea Brown of Hilton Head, SC.
He was predeceased by his siblings, John and Grace Durkin, Jane and Alfred Smith, Harry Durkin, KIA WWII, and Margaret and Doug Gibson.
In keeping with Art’s wishes, there will be no formal funeral services. His family will lay him to rest alongside his parents in St. Agnes Cemetery, North Ilion, at their convenience.
Art’s final arrangements have been entrusted to Don Applegate and Martin L. Ciaccia, Funeral Directors of the Applegate-Day & Enea Family Funeral Home, 102 West Street, Ilion, NY (315) 895-7722.
Online notes of sympathy may be left at www.applegateandday.com.