He’s a Levelland, Texas, native but was living in San Antonio, Texas, working as a carpenter in 1967, when Pete Duran’s brother-in-law from Fort Wayne came for a visit.
Duran had not previously met this relative, who was on vacation in San Antonio. But by the time he was leaving for his home in Fort Wayne, he had talked Duran into coming back with him with the promise of plenty of well-paying jobs here.
“I was 20 years old and my wife, Sarah, and I were recently married, and we decided to leave Texas for Fort Wayne,” said Duran, who, after football season, had to leave the first year of middle school and go to work to help support his family.
“However, I did get my GED later in life as well as some vocational training in electrical and carpentry areas. I worked at Dana Corporation for 34 years as a welder, machine operator, on assembly lines and as a group leader. I retired 14 years ago.”
Although he has been going to St. Therese Church for more than 26 years, Duran has only been a member for about 15 years. There he is a server, a eucharistic minister, an usher and greeter.
He volunteers at the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank and uses his truck to bring commodities and food goods from the commissary to the food bank. He also volunteers on the church grounds, whether it be trimming, mulching, weeding or snow plowing, and helps take down trees to cut up for firewood.
If this sounds busy, wait: There’s more. In winter, Duran clears snow and ice from driveways, sidewalks and steps for some of the elderly parishioners. He visits the sick at their homes and occasionally visits hospitals and nursing homes as well. Taking time to take friends to doctor and dental appointments, sometimes very early, is also on his to-do list.
He assists with serving coffee and doughnuts after both Masses on Sundays, 10 months of the year, and volunteers for the parish fish fries, helping set up tables and chairs and serving fish.
Duran helps prepare other food items at these events and also at the pancake-and-bacon breakfasts. He also does the cleanup afterwards.
He is a grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council and a fourth-degree member of the organization. In addition, Duran is a member of The Fort Wayne Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Inc., and is on the committee for Rekindle the Fire men’s conference. He is also a member of the Small Parishes Actively Receiving Christ organization and participates in prayer vigils for life.
Appropriately enough, Duran’s favorite hymn is “Here I Am, Lord.” He cites Father Lawrence Teteh, the congregation and “our beautiful church” as his reasons for loving his parish. His life’s path is staunchly guided by Matthew 22:37: “To love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind,” followed by the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
In December, Duran was among several members of the Fort Wayne Society of St. Vincent de Paul who were honored with the organization’s Top Hat Award for generous and selfless service to others.
Duran and his wife have five children — Linda Cantu, Vickie DeArmond, Lupita Lazcano, Pete Duran and Andy Duran – 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. In his spare time, he enjoys planting flowers for his wife, keeping his vehicles clean and “driving anywhere.” He also is a big fan of watching biblical movies.
Duran steadfastly follows Ronald Reagan’s words: “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.”
This article appeared in Senior Life-Allen County, the December 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.
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