Tom Durham "Butch" Bivins died peacefully at home on Aug. 25, 2013, at the age of 96.
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He was born July 26, 1917, in Longview to Maurice and Effie Rule Durham Bivins. In 1935, Durham graduated from Longview High School. He was one of two students at Longview High School to be the first in the school's history to letter in four sports - football, track, basketball and tennis. After attending Kemper Military School and playing football for Kemper for two years, he continued his education at Baylor University and graduated in 1940 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Durham was the leading scorer in the Southwest Conference as a running back during his junior year for the Baylor Bears. He remained an ardent alum of Baylor University his entire life.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Durham enlisted in the United States Army. He attended Officers' Candidates School at Fort Knox, Ky., and was stationed with the 6th Armored Division at Fort Smith, Ark., where he rose to the rank of captain. He served with the 20th Armored Division in Europe, which valiantly joined in the final drive to defeat Germany in 1945. While in Germany, he served as a liaison officer between two combat command generals of the division and received a Bronze Star for valor.
Upon returning from World War II, Durham and his brother, Jim, bought and operated the Longview Ice Manufacturing Co. Their company was the primary provider of refrigeration for Texas and Pacific Railway trains as well as being the source of refrigeration for residential homes and commercial businesses in Longview. The company discontinued operation when electrical refrigeration replaced the need for ice.
Durham was a natural athlete. Sports played an important role throughout his life. His love of golf began at age 10 when he caddied at Pinecrest Country Club. At the age of 14 he began playing the game of golf, which he continued to enjoy as an avid golfer until he was 90 years old. In his earlier years, Durham was a Pinecrest Country Club champion.
After many years in sales at Pegues Hurst Ford Motor Co., Durham retired in 1990. He was a longtime member of Pinecrest Country Club as well as a member, for 20 years, of the Cornerstone Sunday School Class at First Christian Church. Through the church, he volunteered for Meals on Wheels.
He is survived by Geneva Tucker Bivins, his wife of 49 years; his daughter, Betty "Twinkle" Duncan and son-in-law Dr. S. Edwin Duncan, of Tyler; his daughter, Sally Thurtell and son-in-law Jim Thurtell, of Dallas; and his stepson, Joel Riley and stepdaughter-in-law Sue Riley, of Plano. Grandchildren are Clay Duncan and his wife Dr. Kelly Duncan, of Houston, Claire Duncan Reynolds and her husband Walt Reynolds, of Fort Worth, Bruner Smith Dyer and his wife Melissa Dyer, of Lakewood, Colo., Allen Thurtell, of New York, Trenton Riley, of San Diego, Calif., Rachel Ellsworth and her husband Steve, of Pearland, and Regan Rawlinson, of Rowlett. Great-grandchildren are Knox Duncan, of Houston, Jacqueline Reynolds and Duncan Reynolds, of Fort Worth, Carson Ellsworth and Tanner Ellsworth, of Pearland. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Marjorie Bivins, of Longview; his nephew, Craig Bivins, of Dallas; and niece, Louise Bivins, of Dallas.
A memorial service for Durham will be on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at First Christian Church, 720 N. Sixth St., Longview, at 2 in the afternoon. All friends and family are invited to attend the celebration of his life.
Memorials may be sent to Heart'sWay Hospice of Northeast Texas, 4351 McCann Road, Longview, 75605; or the
Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Sept. 13, 2013