Formerly of Baker City, 1951-2020
Jeffrey “Jeff” Durham, 68, formerly of Baker City, died on Oct. 6, 2020, at his home in Big Timber, Montana.
The family will announce a celebration of his life at a later date.
Jeff was born on Oct. 13, 1951, at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the eldest of three children of Richard and Vivian (Allen) Durham. 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, where he forged many lifelong friendships and met the love of his life, Kristen Bangle. The couple were married on Oct. 26, 1974, at Cottage Grove, and became a family with the births of two sons — Trevor in 1976 and Austin in 1978.
Described as a quintessential journalist, Jeff’s award-winning journalism career and his appreciation for telling the stories of small-town America spanned 5 decades, transporting his family across the country where they enjoyed making friends and experiencing firsthand 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 Co-op in Baker City (1989-1994) and associate editor for Ruralite Magazine in Forest Grove (2004-2015). 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,” daughters-in-law, Dena (Robinson) Durham, and Jaclyn (Kenny) Durham, and his four granddaughters.
Jeff is survived by his mother, Vivian; his brother, Gregg Durham and sister-in-law, Jeri; his sister, Polly (Durham) Scherrman and brother-in-law, Mark; his wife, Kristen; his sons and their wives, Trevor and Dena, and Austin and Jaclyn; his granddaughters, Reagan, Abigail, Georgia and Grace; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Ed and Mary Bangle; his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Dan and Melinda Bangle, and Larry and Vicki Bangle; his 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.
Jeff was preceded in death by his father, Richard; his grandparents, Harry and Neva Durham, Dorothy Peterson (Allen) and Sherman Peterson; his niece, Rachel Scherrman; and his nephew, Scott Bangle.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Jeff’s memory can be directed to the Stafford Animal Shelter, 3 Business Park Road, Livingston, MT 59047; 406-222-2111, which welcomed Jeff’s dear feline friend, Cali.