by Leah Jackson
The children of Dr. Gloria Ebarb Durr announced an endowed scholarship in her honor that will benefit incoming freshmen at Northwestern State University. The Dr. Gloria Ebarb Durr Endowed Scholarship for Academic Excellence will assist any major for one year. Recipients must maintain a 3.5 or better grade point average. Preference will be given to a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Natchitoches or Sabine parishes.
Durr’s five children and several grandchildren, siblings, nieces and all their spouses along with special friends gathered Sept. 3 to announce the scholarship and honor Durr, who celebrated her 90th birthday Sept. 1.
“A lot of people have made generous donations in our immediate family and extended family,” said Dr. David Durr, son of the honoree. “One thing that is unique about NSU is that people who went here love Northwestern.”
Durr is a native of Zwolle who graduated from Ebarb High School in 1948, earned a bachelor’s degree at NSU in 1951 and began teaching in Caddo Parish. She attended Auburn University for three summers to earn her master’s degree in home economics in 1954. She returned to Natchitoches where she taught under a dual contract at the public lab school and for NSU as supervisor of student teachers.
In 1957, she married Dr. Kenneth Durr and the couple moved to Northeast Louisiana State College (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe) where both were on faculty and where she realized they “couldn’t both work at the same university on a tenure track basis unless I got my Ph.D.,” she said. Four children had come along by then, but she started her doctoral program in the summer of 1966, had her fifth child in 1967 and completed her doctorate at Texas Woman’s University in 1968.
She returned to Northwestern to teach for three years, before joining the faculty at Stephen F. Austin University as chairman of the Department of Home Economics. She was also a visiting professor of home economics at Sam Houston for one summer.
The move to Nacogdoches, Texas, had an interesting correlation to Dr. Durr. Her maiden name, Ebarb, is a derivation of Y’Barbo, a name that figures prominently in Nacogdoches history.
At SFA, Durr was director of the Center for Economic Education, a product of her own planning and organizational efforts. From its inception in 1981 and affiliation with the Texas Council on Economic Education in 1983, Durr served as administrative chairman of the center and in 1985 took on the dual roles as director of the center and chairman of the home economics department. She was recognized by the SFA Alumni Association with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1980. Other honors include Outstanding Achievement in Home Economics Award from Northwestern State in 1970 and Home Economics Teacher Educator of the Year in 1976. She was inducted into Northwestern State’s Hall of Distinguished Educators in 2001.
During a long and productive career, Durr was active in numerous professional organizations, authored many curriculum guides and articles related to her field of instruction and engaged in research related to program accreditation. She retired as Board of Regents Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Sciences as SFA and was named Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Durr’s late husband, Dr. Kenneth Durr, was also a professor and retired Lt. Col in the. U.S. Army. A native of Marthaville, he also had a long career, teaching business and accounting at Texas Woman’s University, SFA and NSU in addition to public and private high schools. He was honored with the establishment of the Kenneth I. Durr Accounting Professorship in NSU’s School of Business. Dr. Kenneth Durr passed away in 2012 after a life dedicated to education and service.
“The rigorous level of academics required for this scholarship honoring Dr. Durr is very fitting,” said Drake Owens, executive director of the NSU Foundation.
Dr. Durr’s mother, Elvera Martinez Ebarb Procell, attended Louisiana State Normal, as NSU was then known, in 1923 and 1924 to earn a teaching certificate and taught school in the rural Sabine Parish community of Ebarb. She returned to Northwestern in 1944 to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching and was a student when D-Day occurred.
Dr. Durr took the opportunity to present NSU Interim President Dr. Marcus Jones with some of her mother’s NSU memorabilia, including a class photo from 1924, a Current Sauce from 1944 and a drawing of Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, her ancestor.
“I am deeply indebted to NSU,” Durr said. “It’s really an honor to be here. I was a country girl from Ebarb, 16 years old when I came to this school. We did not have a car. We didn’t have electricity or running water. To come from there to be here is quite an honor.”
“She came into the world self-empowered,” said her brother Patrick “Bud” Ebarb, who attended along with their sister Eloise Davis. “You were always out front. We were the Three Musketeers.”
“She has been a role model for us all in many aspects, both as a mother and as an educator,” said Dr. David Durr, who is a professor at Murray State.
“This scholarship is really going to help incoming freshmen,” Jones said. “I taught in the College of Business for 23 years and was there when the professorship was established for Dr. Kenneth Durr, so I’m aware of its impact in that it enabled faculty to do research, publish and pursue scholarship. Thank you for being a lifelong educator. Reading your story was an inspiration to me and will be to our students.”
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