June 14, 1948 – Dec. 27, 2018
Henry J. Durand Jr. spent more than two decades at the University at Buffalo, working with students to overcome barriers in their educational, economic or personal background.
But throughout his life, he also found ways to apply his talents away from his job — like teaching people to read, helping prison inmates earn college degrees and establishing martial arts classes for inner-city youth.
Mr. Durand died of leukemia on Dec. 27 at his home in Amherst. He was 70.
Mr. Durand was born in Griffith, Ga., and moved with his family at age three to Cincinnati.
He was a football standout at Walnut Hills High School. His academic and athletic achievements earned him a scholarship to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he was the first black captain of the otherwise all-white football team.
After graduating from Denison with a bachelor's degree in sociology, he went on to earn a master's degree in education at Xavier University and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.
He married his high school sweetheart, Bonita R. Cobb, in 1979.
In 1990, Mr. Durand moved to the Buffalo area to become director of the Educational Opportunity Program at UB.
A UBNow report on Mr. Durand's life said he oversaw programs for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who demonstrated academic potential.
Mr. Durand held a series of administrative roles during his time at UB, ending with the position of senior associate vice provost of academic affairs and executive director of the Cora P. Maloney College at UB.
In 2014, Mr. Durand retired from his administrative positions to become a clinical associate professor in the Graduate School of Education.
Mr. Durand earned an array of recognition, including the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Professional Excellence. He also served in roles including president of the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education.
Mr. Durand made an impact outside the workplace and in academia.
He earned his master's degree as a reading specialist to teach members of his Sunday class to read, and he helped inmates at a prison in Wilmington, Ohio, earn degrees at Wilmington College.
While at the University of Cincinnati, he and two colleagues taught reading and writing skills to custodial staff members at the university, in the evenings after work. Also in Cincinnati, he was instrumental in establishing and maintaining karate classes for inner city youth.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Durand is survived by a son, LeRoy, and two daughters, Aprille Haynie and Anitra Allen.
A celebration of life service was held Saturday in First Shiloh Baptist Church.