Deceased November 13, 2012

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In Memory

David Durk was a person of such great physicality and vitality that it is difficult to believe he is no longer with us. He had a tremendous lust for life, an intense eagerness and enthusiasm. David was a genius in a totally unconventional way, centered on his remarkable ability to gain the respect and trust of every conceivable kind of person. This, with his courage and deep compassion, made him so effective as a police officer and later as an unpaid, unofficial adviser to countless other whistleblowers. He read obsessively, was an avid chef and loved to watch the wild turkeys near his house. Much to the chagrin of his wife and daughters, Joan ’82 and Julie ’88, he was incapable of going anywhere without striking up long, personal conversations with strangers. However, this often led to new friends, informants and people who turned to him for help they couldn’t get elsewhere.

David’s choice of the police as his life’s work was fully in keeping with his nature. Partly it was a boyish fascination with the trappings of police work—the uniform, the gun, the car with flashing lights—but much more seriously he was motivated by a deep desire to help people, especially those lacking the power or connections to seek justice by themselves. In the 1970s, when he was recruiting college students to join the police, he told them “If you really care, become a cop!” Few people cared as much as David Durk.

David was an iconoclast who never compromised his principles, and he often paid the price for that. Happily, his wife, Arlene, a very strong, impressive person in her own right, was a great source of strength during their 53 years of marriage.

David was a unique, sui generis person. I feel privileged that he was my good friend. As Shakespeare wrote, “[He] was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.”

Robert Shore ’57