<BR> Remembering Bob Durkee, a Prineville personality
In recent years, Bob Durkee could almost be called the man who built Prineville. Bob passed away last weekend, but he certainly left his mark on the community. He was responsible for the construction of an estimated 400 to 500 new homes, which is a very significant when you consider there are only about 7,000 homes in Crook County. To get a little more insight into his professional life, I asked Mike Warren, one of his best friends, to reflect on Bob Durkee's life.
I met Bob Durkee about 25 years ago through Clark Hutton who was the branch manager of Western Bank. He told us that if we could team up that he would finance anything we wanted to do, as long as it was reasonable. I spent the next three days with Bob on a road trip to Portland; it normally only takes three hours.
We learned that although we had similar interest, we also had entirely different business practices and goals. We bought several houses together, 11 total, in the late 70)s early 80's using financial leverage tactics that today would probably be considered illegal. However, we saved a lot of people from bankruptcy and financial disaster that they may have encountered had we not taken over their loans.
When things got better in Prineville about 1982, we made out O.K. I left the community for a few years and when I came back in 1985 I opened a real estate office. Bob joined me in 1990/1991. It was a joy and an eye opener to watch him operate. If he could put somebody in a home, it was the highlight of the day for him. If he made money on the deal that was great, if not it didn't matter all that much, just as long as someone got a home.
I knew Bob had put together Barnes Butte Estates in the early 80's plus some other developments, so when he came to me about Northridge I must say I was skeptical to say the least. Especially when his entire game plan was written on a napkin from the Cinnabar. Bob had a vision of a super subdivision that would enable anyone who had a job to buy a house. He had the roads, power, phone, lot size, costs and just about every detail written on just a few scraps of napkins, very much as Northridge is today. This boy was focused and I could tell he was very serious.
It wasn't until a few years ago that this vision of affordable housing really hit me and I felt somewhat asleep at the wheel that I hadn't tried to do more for the community than what he had done. Think about it, 400 to 500 new homes, with great financing. Hundreds of new jobs and business opportunities for Realtors, appraisers, lenders, road builders, carpenters, builders, roofers, and so on, and new revenues for the city, county and state. This guy was a one man economic development system for Crook County and if he made a few bucks-well good for him. If it's worth doing, it)s worth getting paid for.
A lot of stories could be told about the adventures of Bob Durkee. It might be a project for Rick Steber at a later date. But far be it for me to elaborate about his fondness for animals. Like the time he found shelter for about 50 chickens in Jim Puckett's house or the time he tried to find a home for a wayward coyote in the old Cinnabar.
Bob Durkee spent his life making Crook County a better place to live. He tried to give everyone a chance, some people several chances, and I for one hope sincerely that his efforts paid off for him and his family. We live in a community that graduates 150 to 200 young adults every year, so we need at least 100 new home sites every year - year after year and at least that many new jobs. Bob Durkee has done his share.
It's time for all of us to pick up the slack now that he is gone. Bob loved this community and chose to stick it out during good times and bad. He felt ol' Prineville was one of the best places on earth to live. I think most of us feel the same way. We are going to miss him. So long Bob. What a ride!