Remembering Hall of Famer and football physician Walter Durr
By DANIEL HOOKER ’01
Dr. Walter J. Durr, Western Carolina University Athletics Hall of Fame member and longtime benefactor of Catamount athletics, passed away at his daughter’s home in Florida on Sept. 29. Durr, whose medical career spanned more than half a century, was 97.
A native of New Jersey with degrees from New York University and Long Island College of Medicine, Durr served under Gen. George Patton during World War II before moving to the mountains of North Carolina. He began his involvement with Western Carolina when he responded to public address pleas for a physician during a 1951 football game. He went on the field that evening to assist, becoming a fixture on the WCU sidelines as the football team’s official physician and sage, as well as unofficial adviser to the coaching staff, until the late 1990s.
“Dr. Durr touched the lives of so many student-athletes here at Western Carolina University during his tenure,” said Fred Cantler, senior associate athletics director who came to WCU in 1978 and worked as an athletic trainer under Durr’s supervision. “Not a year goes by that a former student-athlete doesn’t ask me about Dr. Durr.”
During his tenure in Western North Carolina, Durr attended to the medical needs of thousands of WCU athletes and faithfully supported the teams through his attendance and financial assistance. Durr served as the chief of surgery at C.J. Harris Hospital (now Harris Regional Hospital) in Sylva in addition to operating his own practice.
Durr became a major benefactor to the football program in 1986 when he endowed the Dr. Walter J. Durr Football Scholarship, which is awarded annually. He also was part of the Cullowhee Legacy program, which includes individuals who have listed WCU as a charitable beneficiary in their estate plans. Members are alumni and friends who have made an ultimate and lasting commitment to WCU.
Durr was inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea Border, and his three grandsons, Jay, Andrew and Daniel.
For more information, contact the Office of Development at 828.227.7124. Memorial contributions may be made to the Durr Scholarship Fund by sending a check, with Durr Scholarship in the memo line, made payable to the WCU Foundation at 201 H.F. Robinson, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723.