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Thomas Edward Durrenberger Sr.
May 4, 1949 ~ February 1, 2024 (age 74) 74 Years Old
Thomas Edward Durrenberger Sr. was born on May 4, 1949, and passed away on February 1, 2024, at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Sharol; son, Thomas (Hannah Koesterer) Durrenberger; daughter, Ann (Seth) McCann; and grandchildren, Evan and Carver McCann, and Josie and Freddie Durrenberger. He is also survived by his sister, Diane (Richard) Levy; brother, Alan Durrenberger; and nephew Andy Levy. Tom was preceded in death by his parents, John and Erlene Durrenberger.
Tom saw much of the world at an early age. He was born in Pensacola, FL, and then spent several years living in Colorado Springs, CO, and Wiesbaden, Germany, before returning to the Florida panhandle and graduating from Niceville High School in 1967.
While in college, he took a brief hiatus from his studies and returned to Europe, funding his travels around the continent by working as a bowling alley technician for US military bases. After an eventful year, he returned and graduated from the University of Florida as an Aerospace Engineer in 1973.
Tom’s love of flight led him to take a series of increasingly senior engineering roles at Eglin AFB, where he met Sharol in 1980. His utter disdain for regulations and the rules of mortal men led him to leave employment with the Air Force for a series of entrepreneurial pursuits, including, notably, as the owner/operator of several machine shops, despite having never previously welded a day in his life. This didn’t stop Tom – few things did. Welding and metalworking were simply new skills to master.
At the machine shops, Tom was particularly proud of his standardized design for light-duty, open-top utility trailers, which he produced in huge quantities. Many of these can still be seen on local roads today.
Tom was a devoted father. He eventually sold his businesses and began working from home to spend more time with his kids. He was ever-present in their lives, and served as the School Advisory Council president at each of their schools. He never missed a single football game, wrestling match, basketball game, track or cross country meet for his kids.
Tom hated to pay for home improvements he could do himself, no matter how grueling. Whether it was building a seawall, re-roofing the house, installing a sprinkler system, sinking a well, or finishing a bathroom, there were few projects he would not take on, often with his son as a less-than-fully-willing assistant.
Tom applied the same certainty in his own abilities to the kitchen, where he developed his own methods for making, in turn, bread, beef jerky, boiled peanuts, donuts, sautéed apples, and finally chocolate cookies, the recipes for all of which remain closely guarded secrets.
Later in life, he served as the head track and cross country coach at Ruckel Middle School and then Niceville High School, where he coached multiple runners to state championships and impacted the lives of many more young athletes.
Tom spent the last years of his life chasing his grandchildren with Sharol. He loved sharing his interests with them, especially flying kites at the beach. Tom did much and lived well. He loved his family, animals, the library, sweets and candies, and raising hell. Few things were beyond his ability, and he demonstrated just how full one life can be. His interests and spirit live on in his children and grandchildren. He will be missed.
Friends and family are invited to remember Tom at Doc’s Oyster Bar, located on Tom’s Bayou in Valparaiso, FL, on Thursday, May 2, 2024, from 2-5 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either the Parkinson’s Foundation or the Niceville Public Library.
Thursday May 2, 2024 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM Doc's Oyster Bar 303 Glen Avenue Valparaiso, FL 32580