Richard M. Durkin Sr.

Published 5:48 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Feb. 25, 1930 – Jan. 25, 2021

NATCHEZ — Richard M. “Durk” Durkin Sr., 90, of Natchez, and more recently Ocean Springs, Mississippi, passed away Monday, January 25th, at Ocean Springs Hospital. Durk was born on February 25th, 1930, in Camden, New Jersey and raised in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After receiving an Engineering Degree from Villanova University, Durk moved to Natchez after getting engaged to his future wife, Camille Butler, and started a long career in the Woodlands Division of International Paper Company’s Natchez plant.

Over the course of his life, Durk became a member of the Santa Claus Committee, and eventually took over as the committee’s chairman, following in the footsteps of his father-in-law, McVey Butler, who had served as the chair for several decades. Durk served as Santa in 1973 and considered that a great honor. He was also honored with being chosen to serve as St. Patrick for the Krewe of Killarney, as the last St. Patrick of the millennium in 1999.

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When United Mississippi Bank was first formed as First Natchez Bank, Durk was asked to serve on the bank’s board and did so for many years. He thoroughly enjoyed serving in that position and did so with many who became close friends.

Durk developed a deep love for sailing through his friendship with Will Feltus (deceased) over the course of his life and loved being out on the water, especially when making long journeys with his good friend Andrew Peabody. He was also an avid fisherman and duck hunter and loved going with another close friend, Dr. Don Killelea (deceased), to their camp at the mouth of the Mississippi River to hunt and fish.

He is preceded in death by his wife of almost 60 years, Camille French Butler and his parents, Richard F. and Hannah Durkin.

He is survived by, his five children, Camille G. Durkin of Ocean Springs, MS, Sally B. Durkin of Natchez, Richard M. Durkin, Jr. and wife Nancy of Natchez, Pam D. Courtney and husband Peter of Midland, TX and Lacy D. Sparks and husband Paul of Birmingham, AL; nine grandchildren, Andrew Clifton, Taylor Clifton and wife Sheridan, Camille Courtney and Elizabeth Courtney Jones and husband Travis, all of Midland, TX, Hannah Durkin of Natchez, Mae Durkin of Biloxi, MS, Butler Sparks and wife, Elizabeth Ann, Will Sparks and wife, Sarah, and Lawton Sparks all of Birmingham, AL; four great-grandsons, Brooks and Cole Clifton of Midland, TX, Eli Sparks and Tripp Sparks of Birmingham. He is also survived by one sister, Judy Durkin McElderry and husband, Jack of Doylestown, PA along with two nieces, Gwen Raifsnider and Vicky Harpster.

He loved his family above all else.

Pall Bearers will be his grandsons and son-in-law, Peter Courtney

Honorary Pall Bearers will be Andrew Peabody, Simon Murphy, I.J. Florence and Bubba Spell.

Services for Richard Durkin Sr. will be at 2 p.m. Friday, January 29, 2021 at St. Mary Basilica. Due to Covid restrictions, masks are required during the services.

Burial will follow at Natchez City Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Santa Claus Committee at P.O. Box 861, Natchez, MS 39121.