Milton Gary Durham was born October 4, 1945 in Dorris, California to Amos and Edith Durham. Milton was their ninth child of ten children. He passed away quietly at Rose Haven Adult Care Facility in Roseburg on August 18, 2020. He will be laid to rest at Sunset Memorial Park overlooking the Coquille River in Coos Bay OR, in the Boulder Estate Area.
Milton was raised in Dorris, California. He was an avid outdoorsman, hiking all the hills around Dorris and McDoel, CA. He loved to fish, hunt birds, and build RC boats and airplanes. His greatest love was hunting birds in the farming fields around Dorris and McDoel. He started hunting around 10 years old with a length of chain. One morning he crawled down an irrigation ditch into a big flock of Canadian Geese. Hunters with guns were in their bird blinds. They spooked the geese and as they flew up, Milton would stand up with his chain, throwing it to bring down a goose. He jumped up and ran to get this goose as the men ran to get their geese. One big guy said. “Did you just get that goose with a chain?” The guy was amazed. Milt said, “Yes, I am too young for a gun” He went home and told his family he just saw the movie star Andy Devine. His family didn’t believe him until a few days later some of the family went to town and overheard a group of guys talking and laughing about this little boy they saw kill a goose with a chain. It was Andy Devine telling the story.
Milton worked every summer for his sister Esther and brother in law at their farm in McDoel, irrigating and working in the sheds at potato harvest. One summer a drifter came to work all season. He was broke and needed to work to travel on. Every break and lunch time the drifter pulled out his guitar and sang to them. It was some years later after Milton came home from his tour of Viet Nam in 1967 he was watching a country music show and the guy singing caught his eye. Milton yelled, “I know him, I worked with him in the potato sheds. I guess he needed money to get to Nashville”, it was Hoyt Axton.
Milton graduated from Butte Valley High School in 1964. In the fall of 1965 he was drafted and sent to Viet Nam as a Combat Engineer and drove a huge dump truck building the military bases and hospitals. They had to defoliate the jungle and palm plantations with Agent Orange to keep the snipers from killing them. The Vietnamese would hide in the tops of palm trees killing our troops. Milton had bad memories of those days which also led to him having the six diseases associated with Agent Orange poisoning, as well as watching the death of his commanding officer. The memories were carried with him to his death. When Milton came home in 1967 he worked three years for Meteler Brothers Wood Products until they closed. He then went to work for Weyerhaeuser in Klamath Falls OR for 30 years, retiring in 2002.
In 1982 Milton married Lillie and after 20 years they retired, sold their home in Keno OR and bought a fifth wheel and went to work for private concessionaires in the National Forest Campgrounds and private RV parks. Lillie as a host and Milton as Maintenance Manager/ Supervisor over the parks. All their spare time was spent fishing. Milton’s favorite was surf fishing at Coos Bay. Married 38 years was the happiest days of their lives with his forever fishing pal Lillie. Milton was a happy-go-lucky, humorous, joke pulling, full of fun guy who loved to eat, and loved his family and his God. He said the first thing he was going to do when he got to heaven was to ask Jesus to show him how to walk on water and go fishing with him.
Milton gave his life to the Lord in 1982 and was baptized on June 22, 2014, with his daughter Anni at College Park Community Church by Pastor LaMar. Lillie came with three ready-made children who adopted Milton and he them. Andy and Anni Anderson, Randy and Tressia Avellar and David Durham. He was “the Dad he never had to be to them”, like the song. He was their “Perfect Dad”. Milton was the proud grandpa of 8 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 1 great great grandson. Milton’s parents, Amos and Edith Durham and 7 of his brothers and sisters preceded him in death leaving three sisters, Clara, Vina and Gladys, many nieces and nephews as well as numerous friends. He will be greatly missed.
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