With an unassuming humility, Dick Durant on March 23 accepted the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary Club of San Marino at the club’s annual award luncheon.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Durant told the crowd upon receiving his award, brimming with gratitude despite his low-key demeanor.
Durant, a former Rotarian himself, said he couldn’t help but recall the number of times he sat as an audience members at this luncheon to congratulate that year’s Paul Harris Fellow. He then recalled the more recent moment when Rotary Foundation Chairman Isaac Hung called him to tell him he had been nominated for the award.
“After Isaac called me, I looked at the list of the previous recipients of the award,” Durant said. “After looking at that list, I’m even more humbled and honored to be standing before you today.”
Durant, a native of Yakima, Wash., earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington State University before earning his law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in 1972. He moved to San Marino in 1975 and began his career as an associate general counsel for Southern California Edison.
But that isn’t why Durant was honored last week, and his multitude of donations to the local Rotary chapter was just a small part of his giving-back throughout the years.
Durant helped to convert the South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA’s basement into a fitness center. He was a scoutmaster and chairman of the Boy Scouts Troop 351, San Gabriel Council and Rose Bowl District. He previously chaired the San Marino Community Church’s operating committee.
Durant also served on the board of the Hill-Harbison House for 16 years, during which he helped to oversee more than $450,000 in improvements. He served as president of the Valley Hunt Club for two years and also served six years on the San Marino Planning Commission, four years of which he chaired.
Durant turned to his wife of 50 years, Sharla, as the primary reason he was able to do so much for his community.
“Without your support, I wouldn’t be able to be here receiving this honor,” he told her at the luncheon.
As for his personal takeaways from his service, Durant said it allowed him to befriend “the nicest people in the community” and also allowed him to connect with the most important group of people: the children.
“We have always tried to volunteer where our efforts will directly or indirectly benefit our youth,” he said. “That’s really what it’s all about for us.”
In his years, Durant also has earned the Golden Book Award from Metropolitan YMCA and the Silver Beaver award from the Boy Scouts. He and his wife have two children and five grandchildren. In his free time, Durant, a self-described outdoorsman, enjoys skiing, fly fishing, mountaineering, sailing, canyoneering and white-water rafting.