Say it ain’t so
Walter and Anna Durham moving to Nashville
By Randy Cline
“Time moves on and we have to deal with things that come along,” is how life-long Gallatin resident Walter Durham explained the decision he and his wife Anna made to sell their Gallatin home and move to Nashville to be closer to family members. “We really don’t want to go but it seems like the wise thing for us.”
“Age is unrelenting; if you’re still alive, you’re going to get older,” the 87-year-old historian noted. “We knew this time was coming but it seems to have come now.”
The couple plans to move by mid-May to the Richland Place Retirement Center on West End in Nashville, near the families of three of their children, including two grandchildren. A fourth child lives in Savannah, Ga.
“It is a very nice, Independent living facility,” Durham said. “We have been there on several occasions and have friends there.”
Durham will continue in his role as Tennessee State Historian and will continue to work with his long-time assistant, Glenda Miliken, saying he has no interest in breaking in a new assistant.
“We, of course, will continue our friendship and we will work by phone or email,” he explained. “I’m going to scale down a lot of my activities. I’m not going to undertake any big books or research projects. I’ll be writing an article every now and then and maybe a small book, but nothing major. She’s been a big part of all my major undertakings.”
Miliken knows that her life will be different and is a bit uncertain on exactly what the future holds. “We hope to continue with back and forth trips to Nashville, fax machines, computers and phones,” she said. “He is very interested in continuing what he does and I’ll be available if there is some way we can accomplish these things.”
Many friends and community leaders have expressed their sadness in seeing the Durhams leave along with wishing them the best.
“The Durhams have been pillars of this community for decades,” said Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves. “They have left their mark on, not only Gallatin, but all of Sumner County, whether it was through business deals, his being an author or their involvement in various endeavors, they have changed the face of this community and they will be sorely missed.”
Mr. Durham has certainly changed the face of Gallatin while Mrs. Durham was the ‘wind beneath his wings’ raising four children in the home they built over 51 years ago.
Durham, a Gallatin High School graduate, returned to his home after serving in South Africa during World War II, helped start the family business, Durham Lumber Company, helped create jobs by starting Gallatin Aluminum Products Company, recorded the history of Sumner County and Tennessee through numerous books and publications, was a founding father of the city’s banking industry and served on uncountable boards and committees to serve his city. He has been a member of Gallatin First United Methodist Church for 75 years and a member of the Gallatin Lions Club since 1950.
“Walter Durham has done a whale of a job telling the story of Sumner County,” said John Garrott, himself a noted historian. “He is very interested in the history of the buildings and the areas around Gallatin, like Wynnewood, Rock Castle, Cragfont, Rosemont and others. We hate to lose him but I can understand that it’s that time of life that he needs to get close to his children.”
Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt said, “It was just last year that I awarded Mr. Durham the Order of the Horse Award for his outstanding contributions to Sumner County. We are losing a true treasure. I know that that their heart will continue to be in Sumner County. I’m happy for them that they are able to move closer to their family. We still feel they are Sumner Countians even though they are moving to Davidson County.”
Long time friend and Gallatin attorney Nathan Harsh commented, “I’ve known Anna and Walter Durham for many years and they have been outstanding citizens of Gallatin and Sumner County; for that matter, the whole state of Tennessee. I’m sure he will continue his relationship with his many friends here and continue his outstanding work with the state as historian. This county and Tennessee have been greatly enhanced by his research and documentation of local, county and state history.”
Harsh knows his friend because he almost took the words out of his mouth concerning the continuing of his Gallatin friendships.
“I look forward to returning at every opportunity,” Durham said. “We don’t want to cut off our relationship with Gallatin and our friends here. We’ve invested our lives here for a long time; you don’t just walk away from it.”
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