Charles (Chuck) Edgar Michael Durant, Born in Braddock, Pennsylvania on September 9, 1928 passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 91 surrounded by his family on March 27, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. He is preceded by his wife of 67 years, Naomi Joyce Durant.
Chuck was strong willed and determined from the beginning to live life on his terms, influenced by his Scottish (His Dad) and Irish (His Mom) descent. Sunny, a nickname he got as a child because his smile could light up a room, was an only child living in a house full of aunts, uncles during the depression. Later, at the age of thirteen, he and his mother would move to Daytona Beach after the early death of his father Charles Sr.
This story is a great example of how he lived his life, leaping from one adventure to another.
After arriving in Daytona, Chuck talked some friends into renting a sailboat even though he had never sailed. Hours later, the boys found themselves miles away down the river, because that was the way the wind was blowing! They finally docked the boat, hiked home and waited for the wind to change before they could go back and get the boat. He would spend the rest of his life leaping into challenges with vigor and creativity.
He attended Seabreeze High School and during his senior year, met the love of his life, Naomi, a sophomore. He would swing by on his way to school and she would balance on the handle bars. If you close your eyes, you can feel the young love and smiles there must have been on those rides! After graduation, He spent a year at Texas A&M and was later drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. After boot camp, Chuck, in his dapper uniform showed up on Naomi’s doorstep, and asked her to come with him to Ft. Bragg, NC where they were married. After his discharge, the two would return to Daytona, start a family and unlike today with ultrasound, were surprised by the twins, Kathy & Mike. Can you even imagine! When asked, he would tell the story of running out to get a second crib! Chuck joined the family business, Bill’s Shed, where he drove an 18-wheeler across the country to bring fresh fruit and veggie’s home to sell, a real luxury at that time. But his heart wasn’t in the business.
He took another leap.
Chuck had been to square dances with his in-laws and decided he wanted to be a Square Dance Caller. His good friend, Al Hixon, another caller, helped guide him into what would be a 30-year career as a square dance caller. He, along with Naomi, would start the first club, the Dixie Squares in Daytona Beach that allowed anyone to join. At the time, the clubs were invitation only, and they believed anyone should be able to dance. He would start several other clubs including the Honeybee’s in Deland and would call for years for The Twirl-a-ways in Titusville and was sought after to call for clubs all over Florida. Chuck would serve as the President of the Florida Callers Association from 1970-71 and fill dance halls around the state entertaining them with his beautiful singing voice, charming smile, sense of humor and love of music.
When he wasn’t working, he was leaping from adventure to adventure. He was sailing on his 32ft Columbia named Allegro, or being a part of an ocean racing sailboat crew, or creating beautiful oil paintings, or learning to fly a plane, or tent camping with his family in the Ocala National Forest, or moving to the Northeast Georgia Mountains and buying a little land with cabins to rent, or planting a garden, or making homemade ice cream, or later in life, traveling around the country in an RV with Naomi visiting National Parks and deciding to hang out and volunteer at Cumberland Island National Seashore. Chuck was always leaping into another adventure.
Now back together, it’s likely Chuck and Naomi have everyone twirling, and laughing and dancing. And leaping.
He is survived by his kids, Michael Durant, wife Wendy, Kathy Durant, and husband Michael, Missy Durant and wife Samantha Hanson, and grandkids Sarah Mullinax, Emma Pickering, Josh Pickering, Ellie Hanson & Sam Hanson.
There will be a private service in the future.