Paul Durben

paul durben
Paul Richard Durben, 70, passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2019 at his home in Fargo, ND. Paul was born in Fargo on July 2, 1948 to Genevieve and Richard Durben and grew up here with his eight siblings. Apart from his military service he lived in Fargo all his life. He served in the Army in Vietnam and Germany as a legal clerk covering everything from routes and landing specifics to deferments and discharges for servicemen and logging all-volunteer miles documenting technical information for the helicopter battalion. He attended North Dakota State University studying engineering and then, following in his father’s footsteps, began a lifelong career as a Hospital Engineer. He was valued and sought after by each of our local hospitals, his latest position before retiring being with Orthopedics Associates in Fargo as Director of Facility Operation. Although his titles varied over the years with changes in hospital systems, he was always respected and well known for his expertise and concern for his employers and fellow employees. He was ‘on call’ his entire working life and continued to be available even after his retirement. Paul was our token bachelor, a trait that ran in both sides of the family! But even so, he took a great interest in each of his sibling’s families, taking part in his nieces and nephews lives, making a place for them to enjoy nature at his lake cabin, teaching them to ski, fish, and appreciate his friendship and penchant for fun. Paul’s was a kind and gentle soul. During his Army time in Can Tho he was loved by the orphaned children and their caretakers. He watched over them and did whatever he could to make their lives more peaceful whether it was to fulfill a need for food, building maintenance, or just plain heart. He was uncle, godfather, and friend. To his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins and aunts and uncles he was always an encouraging, dependable ear for their concerns, a reliable source of news and important events. Whatever the need, he gave his heart and his hands to help. His was a quiet demeanor with a silly side which endeared him to all. On his own Paul was an avid photographer and followed the transition from good old 35 millimeter film to the latest in digital technology. He captured nature whenever and wherever he could from our national parks to his urban backyard. Paul was a member of the Philatelic organization – stamps! He was intrigued by their design, their history, the messages they conveyed. He had an eye for anything well designed and hand tooled which led him to fill his home with wondrous things. His wood shop was the birthplace of beautifully framed family heirlooms and cabinets for their display. He gifted his family with lovely examples of woodcrafting. He was active in his local community organizations, attending meetings and always taking interest in the goings on around the neighborhood – a tie to his early days when Fargo was small and his home was on the edge of the north side. There is so much more to convey about Paul. The most important is that he spread his heart to so many people in so many ways. We loved him all his life and love him still. He is preceded in death by his parents and his Uncle Doland Durben; his nephew Andrew Jurvich; his Uncle Ward Wooldridge; his uncle Rueben Haugen; his Aunt and Uncle Shirley and Ron Englund; his uncle Roger Cossette. Paul is survived by his sister Mary and her husband Tom: his sister Kathleen and her husband William; his brother John and John’s wife Phetsemone; David and his wife Dianne; James and his wife Kim; JoAnn and her husband Wayne; Brian and his wife Michelle; and his sister Jean and all of their children and his grand nieces and nephews. We will miss his heart. Good night Big Brother. Paul’s memorial service will be held at 7 pm on Tuesday, February 19 with visitation from 5-7 at Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center, Fargo.

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  1. Sad to hear of Paul’s passing. Remembering him from the days at St. John’s/DHHS. He was always “on the job”. He listened to complaints ranging from “it’s too hot in here or it’s too cold in here” with a smile on his face. He was a great guy with a fun sense of humor; especially when he called me “Big Red”!!!

    Hugs and prayers to his family and friends.

  2. Family,

    My name is Mike Scheibe and I was saddened to hear about Paul. My family has been neighbors to Paul on Big Twin for years. In the last couple of years I had the opportunity to get to know him better and he was so helpful in answering my questions about life at the lake. He knew June and Evie well and shared stories that only he could tell.

    As most of you probably know – this last summer he made the purchase of the riding mower that allowed more time for other projects. I was looking forward to more question that he would be glad to answer. I do feel blessed in the time that I had.

    Paul was a great neighbor and a very kind man.


  3. I worked with Paul and a few medical facilities in Fargo and Moorhead, he was always a pleasant and helpful when called him with a need, and very knowledgeable on how to get the work done.

  4. Please accept my condolences on the passing of Paul. Paul was a friend and a helpful associate to me when our crew took over the exterior grounds responsibilities at Orthopedics Associates. We all shared the same commitment to Sanford Health up until our retirement.
    Rest In Peace and know you’re in the loving arms of our Lord.

  5. My heart was saddened to learn of Paul’s death. One of my best decisions at Orthopaedic Associates was hiring Paul to work with our team. He was my quiet “rock”. We went through floods, reconstructions, and major remodels. With his extensive knowledge on so many topics, he contributed immensely. For two years, during one of our remodels, I shared an office with Paul. I appreciated and respected him even more. He talked about his family frequently, in a very proud way. Paul’s family did an excellent job in capturing his life and attributes in his obituary. I also enjoyed our breakfast get togethers after we retired. Paul was a good friend and will be missed. I am out of state, and so sorry I will not be at his service. My heartfelt sympathies to the entire family.

  6. Will always remember how much Paul helped us at the time of my daughter Lori’s illness and at the time she passed away. He was always there for us and don’t know what I would have done without his help.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time. Sorry I could not be with you for the memorial service.
    You are all in my prayers

  7. Our thought and prayers are with you. Paul was a super neat person he will be missed.

  8. I was so shocked and sadden to hear of Paul’s passing. I first met Paul back in the St. John’s / St. Ansgar days, I new when I first had to deal with him on operating room mechanical problems,that this guy is someone who knew his stuff, and would be “my resource”. We continued working together and trouble shooting those O.R. problems for years to come,right up until he retired (from Orthopaedic Associates and The Institute For Special Surgery). Paul shared many of his views on life issues with me,some even when they weren’t asked for,but most times he was right. He was a fine example of a friend and coworker that always had time for you. Our family is especially thankful to him for all his help in the “97” flood. Paul, so sorry you didn’t get that long retirement you worked so hard for. God Bless your memory. Hopefully we don’t meet in the boiler room!!!!

    We are out of state and won’t be able to attend the service,will be thinking of the Durben family.

  9. Though I am a cousin, I never got to spend a lot of time around Paul. When I would meet up with him, it always impressed me how he had this powerful yet very gentle aura of kindness and friendliness. I, like my mother, felt very indebted to him for what he did for my sister in her time of need. I really wish I could have known him better. My heart goes out to my cousins, his brothers and sisters, along with his nieces and nephews in this time of mourning. My impression of Paul – if there were a rule that only a few could make it to heaven, he could very well be in the front row. God bless you all.

  10. To Jean,
    I never had the pleasure of meeting your brother Paul and that’s my loss. He must have been a magnificent big brother. My condolences to you and your family and I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten the young giggling girl who could never win the bet and take a quarter off me by simply not smiling for 10 seconds.
    Don Dumais

  11. I had the pleasure of working with Paul at Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. He was always quick to respond to our facility issues. I loved his no nonsense getter done approach. My sympathy to the family.

  12. Paul worked with my dad at St Ansgars. He was Bob Baukol. My father enjoyed working with him and respected him and his work. Our sympathies to all of his family. May your memories bring you smiles. Gods blessings to all. Joan Hall Ness

  13. I worked with Paul, at St. John’s/St. Ansgard he was a kind, considerate, and a man with a truly gentle soul. Paul and I frequently talked about Vietnam, he worked in Graves registration and I pulled long-range reconnaissance patrols,I always told him I could not do his job. We often laughed about our experiences in Vietnam.
    We were employed by Orthopedic Associates, and when the days were long he always had a kind word for me.
    Paul, keep a chair ready for me.

  14. I worked with Paul at all the hospitals and at OA for many many years. A great co worker and our go to guy. If you wanted something done Paul was your guy. Always kind, always thoughtful and fun to work with. God will bless you , Paul

  15. For about 2 years I lived right beside Paul on 7th st in North Fargo. He was always so kind and helpful. He would remove snow for me and I would bring him cake. He helped me remove a tree that had been knocked down one summer. I along with my children moved out of that house next to his last April. I have thought of him often. Thinking of praying for his family in this time of sorrow.

    Rest in Peace Paul

    Janae White

  16. I worked in the OR at Dakota Hospital for several years and always appreciated Paul. As others have shared he knew how to take care of the many mechanical problems that could occur and was always pleasant to work with. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

  17. To the Durben Family: We are so sorry to hear of your brother’s passing.I knew Paul through his brother Jim especially the last couple of years.He was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone that needed it.I really appreciated him and Jim helping my sister out when she was in need of a helping hand. Our thoughts and prayers are with you

  18. To the Durben Family: We are so sorry to hear of your brother’s passing.I knew Paul through his brother Jim especially the last few years.He was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.I really appreciated his and Jim’s help when my sister was in need the last couple of years.Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.God Bless Randy and Sandra Johnson

  19. Paul was a student of mine in the 60’s.
    A gentle fellow, he was an outstanding
    scholar and great friend. I loved all of
    his extended family and was a frequent
    guest in the family home.

  20. I haden’t seen Paul in several years but have great memories of him when I volunteered at St. John’s Hospital. He was such a nice person and always willing to help in anyway he could. So friendly and always a smile on his face. Loved reading the obituary on Paul, it was a very nice tribute to him and well deserved.

  21. To the Durben Family,
    Were are saddened to hear of Pauls passing. We are neighbors of Paul at Big Twin Lake. He was a kind and thoughtful man. We enjoyed talking with Paul about the history of the lake and his sharing of memories and the history on Twin.
    He will be missed, Thoughts and prayers with you all.
    Chuck & Ann Schwede

  22. Kate,
    The obituary and video show a warm and loving man. May your heart hold the memories and overcome the grief.

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