Genevieve Durben

genevieve durben
Genevieve “Gen” Lorraine (Hebert) Durben died Nov. 22 at her home in Fargo. She was 94. Gen was born April 27, 1921, in Fargo, to Leon and Rose (Fugere) Hebert. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1939. After high school she attended business school in Fargo and became a bookkeeper for the Manchester Biscuit Co. in Fargo. She met her future husband, Richard J. Durben, at the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) in Fargo. They were married May 4, 1944, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fargo, while he was on leave from wartime service in the United States Marines. They lived briefly in North Carolina, then returned to Fargo after the war. As a young mother, Gen was active in Homemakers and the PTA. Gen joined the League of Women Voters in 1957 in Jamestown, ND, where the family lived for about a year. She joined the Fargo League in 1978 and served as membership chair, 1986-88, and a director, 1986-90. She was President of the North Dakota League from 1990 to 1994.Her political involvement began in 1965, when she was involved in the reorganization of the Democratic Women’s Club. She worked on many campaigns, helping to elect women at all levels, and became a candidate herself for State Representative for the 45th District in 1978. She received the Democratic Women Plus “woman of the year” award in 1990. Gen was also a longtime election judge and was active in the Roosevelt Neighborhood and NDSU Neighborhood Improvement organizations. In 1968 she fulfilled a longtime dream of returning to college. She graduated from NDSU in 1972 with majors in English and secondary education, then earned an Associate Degree in Library Science from Moorhead State University in 1973. She taught high school for a year in Borup, Minn., then was a substitute teacher for many years in the Fargo public schools. An avid chronicler, Gen filled more than 100 scrapbooks and photo albums, including a wartime scrapbook with clippings about friends and relatives who served, political and community scrapbooks, family history albums, and a great many albums documenting the lives of her children through the years. She could never sit still for long. Her house was always meticulously clean and seasonally decorated, with homemade cookies and desserts on hand for visitors plus canned goods to take home. She sewed clothing, quilts and slipcovers and crocheted hundreds of doilies. Gen was always youthful in mind, outlook, energy-level and appearance. Even in her 90s she enjoyed hosting family celebrations and loved attending her grandchildren’s recitals and concerts. She always remembered birthdays and kept in touch with extended family and friends. Gen was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her sister Shirley Englund of Arizona and niece Lori Evans of Fargo. She is survived by daughters Mary (Tom Ratzloff) Durben, Howard Lake, MN, Kathleen (Will) Cooper, Fargo, Joann (Wayne) McDunn, Audubon, MN, and Jean Durben, Moorhead; sons Paul Durben, James (Kim) Durben and Brian (Michelle Nitschke) Durben of Fargo, and John (Noy) Durben, Boise, ID, and David (Dianne) Durben, Anaheim, CA. Also by sisters Marie (Ruben) Haugen, Burnsville, MN, Eileen (Roger) Cossette, Vancouver, WA, Louise (Jerry) Lingen, Chandler, AZ, and Carol Hebert, Bloomington, MN, and brothers Willard (Mary) Hebert and James Hebert of Fargo. Also by 16 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Also by schoolmate Connie McConville, Thousand Oaks, CA. Visitation will be 5-7 Friday with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. at Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center. The funeral will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday at St Francis De Sales Catholic Church, Moorhead with visitation one hour prior to the Funeral. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery North.


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  1. Jean,
    I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. I remember her as a substitute teacher at Fargo North for many years. She was so kind and caring and an excellent sub and I recall the students always saying nice things about her when she would substitute for me. I wish I could be there and put that “quarter on the table for the 10 second bet without laughing” like I used to do with you or give you my Billy Jack impression. I’m sure you could use a little laughter right about now. Please know that I’m thinking of you at this very difficult time and wish you the very best.
    Don Dumais

  2. My deepest sympathies to the Durben family on the loss of Gen. She was an exceptional and truly gracious woman. I will be forever grateful to Gen, when she opened her arms to my daughter and lovingly brought her into the fold of the Durben family.

  3. Jim – I’m so sorry to hear you lost your mom. She sounds like she was quite the gal. It’s never easy to lose someone, but the holidays somehow makes it worse. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  4. Brian and family, I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. She most certainly had a full, loving life. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as I know how difficult it is to say these earthly goodbyes.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with Durben family at this difficult time. I am so sorry for Genevieve’s loss. It was very sad to learn the news of your mom’s passing away and I can only imagine how difficult it has been for you. I write you with heartfelt condolences at this sad time.
    Divya (long time ago neighbor and friend)

  6. Durbin Family,
    So sorry to hear that your mom passed away. Though I have been away from Fargo for a long time, I have not forgotten all the great times I had with all you guys back in the old neighborhood I also remember your mom’s great smile and wonderful greeting whenever I came over to see you all. I was amazed at all your mom’s accomplishments over her life, especially heading back to college. I believe I may have run into her my first year at NDSU. She was pretty amazing, and I’m sure you all were very proud of her. Cindy and I have you all in our thoughts and prayers.

    Rick ( Ricky) Sakshaug
    Stuarts Draft, Virginia

  7. My condolences to the whole Durben clan during this time; may you all be at peace knowing your mother is resting in a wonderful place.

  8. Paul and Jim,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I remember how kindly and with pride you both spoke of your mother. She sounds like an amazing lady.
    My deepest sympathy and sincere prayers,
    Kathy Scheibe

  9. Gen’s family
    We are very sorry for your is especially hard losing the Mom of the family.
    She was a very kind and generous lady. Gen would always stop to catch up on my family
    anytime I would see her.
    She and my mother were good friends.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with your families at this difficult time.
    Adrian and Joyce Fugere Flicek
    Audubon Mn.

  10. John,

    Condolences to you and your extended family for the loss of your mother. I’ve really enjoyed the stories you’ve told about your mom over the years. Her list of interests and accomplishments are remarkable, and done while raising nine children…wow! I wish I could have known her. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Patrick Dunn

  11. The Lavern & Evelyn Ouellette family sends our deepest sympathy to the Durben family. Gen was not only a good cousin to our Mom, she was a good friend to her until her passing 10 years ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Debbie Ouellette

  12. Jim, Kim, Elizebeth, and Durben family:
    My family and I are very sorry for your loss. It is clear from knowing you that she raised a great family with great values. May light perpetual shine upon her.
    Charles Stevens & family

  13. Durben family,
    You were all truly blessed with having so many years with Gen. I chatted with Jean often about her and was able to visit with her on a couple of occasions – very lovely woman.
    Friday night service was a great celebration of her life.
    Tammy – Fargo North class of 1980 graduate & life long friend of Jean.

  14. Dear Gen Durben Family:
    My prayers and sympathy to all of you in this time
    of loss. Mothers are tough to lose!! Blessings and God’s
    love surround you!
    Loretta Sauvageau

  15. Gen Durben was so incredibly kind and generous, always a twinkle in her eye. She was one of those outstanding Democratic woman who made the Dem-NPL great, a phenomenal supporter and contributor.

    God gave us roses so we might have roses in December. Though the tears with sadness never cease, my prayer is that the tears with laughter flow as you remember the happy times shared.

    God’s blessings of courage and patience, wisdom and strength be with you every day.

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