Obituary for Mr. "Pat" Durkee America has lost another member of “The Greatest Generation” with the passing of Wentworth Xavier (Pat) Durkee, a highly decorated Sgt Maj USMC (Ret), age 92, on April 22 at his home in Hartwell, GA overlooking his much-loved Lake Hartwell. Pat was born on December 1, 1923 in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Ethel Durkee Alden.
Pat served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940 and the Merchant Marines in 1941 – 1942, serving in the North and South Atlantic. In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served in the Pacific theater in WWII. He also served in combat in both Korea and Vietnam. In 1968, he retired as a Sergeant Major, the highest rank an enlisted soldier can attain. During his career, he received numerous commendations, decorations and awards. Pat served under, and became a mentor to, many officers who served in the Marine Corps, from lieutenants to multi-star generals.
Upon retirement from the Marine Corps, Pat embarked on a new career as a Field Director with the Boys Scouts of America. In his free time, he attained his BA and MA degrees in history from Georgia State University. Following his retirement from the Boy Scouts, he taught in inner city Atlanta schools for 12 years.
Pat and his beloved wife, Carlene, then retired to Hartwell, GA where he assisted in forming an educational program at Anderson College in South Carolina and spent a number of years as a class assistant in the school’s art department. In his spare time, he taught private painting classes for older students. In 2008, while in his mid-80s, Pat wrote a book about his life, An American Life Through War and Peace, which was published in 2010.
He and Carlene were active members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Hartwell, where he served in many capacities including editor of the weekly Antiphon. Pat was a member of the Marine Corps League of Anderson, SC. He was a proud member of the Golden “K”, where he received the Andy Stackhouse Award for service. Pat strongly believed that the Golden “K” embodies the true meaning of “love thy neighbor” through their actions and the services they perform.
Pat was preceded in death by his cherished wife, Carlene, in 2005; his eldest daughter Terri Bress, and his sons, Wayne Gilliam and Greg Gilliam. He is survived by 6 children, son Steve (Susan) Gilliam, Gainesville, GA; daughter Karen Durkee, Commerce, GA; son Wentworth X. (Sonny) Durkee, Jr., San Antonio, TX; daughter Laura Gilliam, Covington, GA; daughter Elizabeth Durkee, Annapolis, MD; and daughter Melissa (Bill) Krebs, Swedesboro, NJ. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at the Strickland Funeral Home in Hartwell, GA on Monday, April 25, from 6-8pm. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Hartwell, GA at 1 p.m. The services will be officiated by the Reverend Susan Hardaway and the Reverend Lee Peyton, and the eulogy will be delivered by the Reverend Cass Daly. Burial will follow at Nancy Hart Memorial Park with full military honors.
It is requested that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Terri Durkee Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 579 Fairview Avenue, Hartwell, GA, 30643.