Joan Elizabeth Durham
September 11, 1933-January 25, 2020
Joan E. (Mulvihill) Durham passed away on January 25, 2020 at Duncaster in Bloomfield, Connecticut, where she had lived since 2014.
Joan was born in New York City and lived in Brooklyn until she was five years old, when her mother died. She then lived in Danbury with her father’s family and Long Island, eventually relocating to West Hartford, where she graduated from William Hall High School in 1951.
She earned an English degree and Secondary School Teaching Certification from Central Connecticut State College and began her teaching career at Canton High School, where she rose to Chair of the English Dept. She left when she married Peter Durham and moved from Collinsville to Simsbury in 1959.
While raising three children, she earned a master’s degree in English, served on the Simsbury Board of Education as Secretary, served as a member of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, and was a delegate to National Boards of Education conferences. She was also a member of the State Department of Education Evaluation Team and the Commissioner of Education’s Task Force.
Her passion for language and teaching brought her back to the classroom when she led the curriculum planning and development efforts for the new concept Westledge School in Simsbury where she also taught English. She subsequently taught at Bloomfield Junior High School and Simsbury High School, retiring in 1998.
Joan had life-long passions for the dramatic arts and classical music. She was a patron of the Hartford Stage Company and Hartford Symphony, chaired the State High School Drama Festival and the Connecticut Drama Association, and was a founding member the Theater Guild of Simsbury for which she served as costume chair, conceiving and designing elaborate and beautifully detailed costumes for, as well as appearing in, their productions for many years. Her dedication to listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast each Saturday often drowned out the vacuuming, chain-sawing and other task-oriented noise around the household.
Her teaching allowed her to travel extensively in Europe and she spent many summers with friends in the Savoie region of eastern France. She and Peter also loved sailing on their ketch Valhalla and entertaining their many friends in their home.
She leaves two sons, Mark (Susan) of Fairfield, and Ted of Tacoma, Washington, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, a sister Tricia Forhane, brother-in-law Dr. Christopher Durham (Susan), and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband and her son Jonathan.
A memorial and celebration of her life will take place in the near future at a location in Simsbury. Please visit Joan's "Book of Memories" at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online tributes,