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Doug Durrant, beloved art professor, dies

Professor Doug Durrant in his office during the spring 2015 semester before he retired. Joel Vaughn/The Telescope
Professor Doug Durrant in his office during the spring 2015 semester before he retired. Joel Vaughn/The Telescope


Art Professor Doug Durrant, who retired this summer after 44 years at Palomar, died Sept. 26 of a heart attack.

Faculty and students called Durrant an influential figure in the lives of his students, colleagues, and Palomar’s art department as a whole.

In an email, the director of Palomar’s art department Lily Glass described Doug as legendary for his cowboy-esque swagger, lingo, and, most of all, his stories.

“But what made Doug truly special was his love. He loved each and every one of his students. He heard their stories and remembered them,” Glass said.

Fellow Art Professor Jay Schultz called Durrant the “institutional memory of the art department.”

To many, Durrant will be remembered as the professor who introduced them to a lifestyle of living and seeing beauty in the world through being an artist. One such student is Palomar graduate Sydney Moore.

“He just sat me down and asked me what career paths I wanted,” Moore said. “I don’t remember exactly what he said, but by the end of that first day I realized that he wasn’t just saying ‘be an art major,’ his philosophy was to live as an artist.”

Many people who knew him said he kept to that philosophy

Durrant told The Telescope in May that he was excited to spend his retirement traveling back to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to reconnect with the places where he grew up and became an artist.

Student Dove Cochrane described Durrant as “a magnificent human being” who always tried to create a sense of community in his classes. Part of this was his willingness to push for a network of support among his students.

“You don’t find that very often in other circles, it’s very competitive,” Cochrane added.

Not only was Durrant a figure of admiration among his students, but among his colleagues as well. One such colleague and friend was Karen Keimig Warner, who worked in the art media lab.

Keimig Warner described Durrant as a character who the students loved and whose teachings crossed stylistic and cultural media to encourage his students.

“I knew him in ‘71 as an instructor and he just always said good things about your work, he always built the students up,” she said.

Alex Boston, a former Palomar student, said he is an example of how Durrant fostered a love for art in his students.

“While art was an interest of mine in the past it was not something I made time to do, fought so hard to keep, or considered so deeply a part of me until my days at Palomar,” Boston wrote on Facebook.

“Doug, you were the reason we fell in love with drawing. And the reason I’m still doing it. Ya dig?”

Art Professor Schultz called Durrant a great orator who wove his stories into his lectures.

“He always had a point and that point was usually worth hearing,” Schultz said.

Schultz not only knew Durrant as a colleague but Durrant was his professor when Schultz attended Palomar.

“So we would have these softball games …. I have this vision of Doug standing at first base with a glove on his hand, a cigarette in his mouth, and a beer at his feet watching the ball go by. It was really casual atmosphere and you really got to know people,” Schultz said.

In a previous interview, Durrant described art’s value is in its ability to carry and represent a cultural base.

“Material things can be fleeting, politics can be fleeting, but the cultural base is unique. It’s a privilege that we have that,” Durrant said.


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  1. Ive known Doug Durrant since1978 as teacher, as artist, a colueage and most importantly a friend whom I admired for never compromising on his humanity or ethics. He was the only real cowboy I’ve ever known. Simple, authentic and larger than life Doug affected everyone he taught with his humor and compassion. The world is a bit less “rodeo” without him.

  2. Corinne Durrant
    Corinne Durrant October 22, 2015

    Doug Durrant was my cousin and we became much closer after he lost his wife, Susan, to cancer several years ago. Although he was 12 years older than me, I can remember from the beginning, whenever we visited his house (which was very often) he was always drawing at their dining room table. It was always cars–race cars, Willy trucks, dragsters, motorcycles… That was all he cared about…racing cars on Highlalnd Ave, National City, & Proctor Valley.That was his life. But he was always living his life, always having fun, partying, sleeping all day! He grew up, moved to Texas, renewed his Southwest roots and became the cowboy you all knew & loved today. He loved me unconditionally. He became a brother and a mentor to me. We had so many things we planned to do, but now my best friend is gone. I love him to the moon & back. But I’m happy he’s in heaven with his soulmate, Susan. Now they can together watch the birth of their grandchild and bask in this joy. In conclusion, Doug really did love each & every one of his students, past & present. He spoke of them so lovingly. Cared about each of them immensely, personally. He also loved grading their homework (artwork) on Sundays. He took such care with each piece of work, so that he would give each student the correct grade and attention it deserved. That’s the kind of man he was. He was such an amazing man & presence in my life. I was very lucky to have him & his family in it. Thanks Jessica for sharing your Dad.

  3. Stacey Prince
    Stacey Prince March 24, 2018

    What a sweet man that really did listen to each of his students life stories. We have another art angel to watch over us. You are missed.

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