With the recent acceptance of the Ladd Mathis Award from the United Way of Paducah/ McCracken County, John Durbin and his high school sweetheart, Rudina (and wife of 28 years), cap many years of civic, charitable, educational, and emotional support of scores of different causes—one of the most significant is autism awareness.
In His OWN Words ~ I love hats. I must have 120 of them. Today they cover my semi-bald head, but I started wearing a hat to hold back my long hair while running in high school and college and just continued with the tradition. I can’t wear a hat at work (of course), but I do own several Paducah Bank hats that I proudly wear in public on my ‘casual’ days. I wear many other hats, usually representing what I’m passionate about: my children’s colleges (Centre, Savannah College of Art and Design), running hats from races, UK basketball hats, St. Louis Cardinals hats, coaching hats from St. Mary, United Way hats, West Kentucky Runners Club hats, KHSAA officials hat, hats from various vacation spots, and even an autism awareness hat. The hats are symbolic of where I spend my time, my causes and hobbies. (I still need a St. John Church and Lourdes Hospital hat!)
Need we say MORE? Well, sure we should!
John Durbin is truly a man who wears many hats. From his distinguished financial background as a young CPA in St. Louis with Touche Ross & Company (a national accounting firm), to his partnership in the Paducah firm of Williams, Williams & Lentz, to his leadership as Paducah Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, John has every right to don the stereotypical eyeshade headgear of the traditional accountant. (By the way, John has hats from these two CPA firms, too.)
His desire to run and not be weary has taken him through town and all over the country as he has logged more than 45,000 miles since 1970, capping off a career of both competitive and recreational running that has spanned 35 years. His drive to hit the road running and influence young people led him to direct the footwork of St. Mary students (including daughter, Aubrey) in cross country and track from 1993 to 1999. His girls’ cross country team won three state titles from 1994 through 1996, and under his tutelage the boys won in 1998. John still holds the 2-mile school record at St. Mary; the one he set in 1973 for the mile stood for 31 years before being broken in February of this year! He was voted State Coach of the Year five times during his six years of cross country coaching. And since his retirement from coaching, he has served as an official for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Need we say more? Well, okay. John ran his first marathon (26.2 miles) in 1973 as a 16-year-old and again in 1974. He then waited 16 years before running another in 1990 in his fastest time of 2 hours, 53 minutes. He has run a total of 13 marathons in 10 states plus one 50K (31 miles) and one 60K (36 miles). In May, he ran his longest race ever—a hilly 50 mile trail race in Wisconsin that took over 11 hours to complete. Mid-life crisis perhaps? With some knee “issues,” John restricts his current training to only 3 days and 35 miles or so per week (slacker!). He enjoys running at 5 a.m. with his brother, Steve, and other members of the local running club.
John’s participation with our local United Way dates back to 1985. He and Rudina’s involvement writing grants for resources for the McCracken County Public Library caught the attention of the United Way in 2004. The culmination of their years of service earned the Durbins the 2005 Ladd Mathis Community Spirit Award—a figurative hat they wear proudly. Through the husband and wife team’s efforts, there are now well over 150 books, VHS tapes, DVDs, and other resources on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the local library. Their son, William, is autistic.
“It started in 1997 with the initial grant from the United Way. We added more in 2000 and updated and enhanced the collection in 2004. Prior to 1997, there was not a single book on the topic in the library,” John explained.
John adds that the number of children being diagnosed with autism continues to grow (now 1 in 166) which spurs the couple’s desire to bring more information and understanding about the syndrome to the parents of autistic children and the public at large. “Rudina has given autism presentations to education majors at Murray State two times per year for the last three years. She has taped segments for public television, and we enjoy serving as personal resources and supporters to young couples of children with newly diagnosed autism,” he said.
Big FAMILY Man, Too
John is the eighth of ten children. His father, Richard, is a lifelong resident of the St. John Community in south McCracken County. Eight of his ten children still reside in McCracken County and regularly meet at his house on Sunday afternoons to watch UK basketball or Cardinals baseball, and talk about everything.
John’s oldest brother and his family live in Columbus, Ohio, the same city as married daughter, Aubrey, who will receive a masters degree in school psychology from Ohio State this June. So, there is a dual reason to visit Columbus. (John ran the Columbus Marathon three times.)
His oldest sister and her family live in Louisville, which is base for state track and cross country competitions, thus presenting a dual opportunity to visit and officiate. (John’s fastest marathon was the Louisville Marathon.)
Middle daughter, Lindsay, is a sequential art major in Savannah, which is a wonderful place to visit and unpack and pack a college kid. (John’s slowest marathon was the Tybee Island Marathon near Savannah—too nice to hurry!)
Last but not least is his son, William. At age 13 he is an inch taller than his dad. William is a very special child and is the centerpiece of the Durbin family because of his special needs and special gifts.
Oh, And of Course There is WORK
“I gave up a partnership in June 2000 with the local CPA firm of Williams, Williams and Lentz—not because I was looking for a change (I frankly thought I’d retire there), but because I believed in Joe Framptom and Wally Bateman’s vision for the community and their commitment to keep Paducah Bank independent. I would not be here today without their assurance to remain locally owned and operated,” John explained.
John uses his experience as an accountant, auditor, tax profes- sional, management consultant, and community-minded volunteer to make a personal contribution toward the bank’s goal of financial excellence. “I have an obligation as the Chief Financial Officer to the Board of Directors, the shareholders, fellow employee/owners, and customers to do my part to ensure the safety and soundness of our bank,” John commented. “And I take that responsibility very seriously.”
John’s sense of volunteerism is yet another personal/professional philosophy that he shares with Paducah Bank. “The extensive com- munity involvement of the bank’s employees sets us apart from the rest in my opinion. We seem to be everywhere, volunteering in the community, often in large numbers. It’s a genuine concern about people—not just for our customers but for the entire community.”
So we say, hats off to John and the many other Paducah Bank employees who take the work of their daily lives seriously, and who choose to spend serious time outside of their chosen vocations to give back to a community that sets no cap on what it can become.