Cover photo for John E. Durkin's Obituary
John E. Durkin Profile Photo
1932 John 2022

John E. Durkin

May 5, 1932 — September 2, 2022



John E. Durkin, 90  WORCESTER — John E. Durkin died peacefully surrounded by his family on September 2, 2022, after a brief illness.

He is predeceased by his beloved wife of 57 years, Joan (Barry) Durkin, and dear daughter, Christine M. Durkin (wife of John A. Menslage).

John leaves five children, thirteen grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. His family includes his daughters Patricia Durkin Franklin of Chicago, Illinois, Maureen Durkin O’Connell and her husband Charles Pecevich of Ipswich, Eileen M. Barry and her husband Kevin Harkins of Mattapoisett, and his sons Timothy J. Durkin of Venice, California, and Brian P. Durkin of Plum Island and Barcelona, Spain. 

In addition he leaves his cherished grandchildren Elise Franklin and her husband Scott and their children Calla and Adele, Marisa Graybill and her husband Raphael and their children Genevieve and Vivienne, and Garth Franklin and his partner Anna Moore; Ryan O’Connell (Brother Theophilus) and Annie O’Connell; Michael and Maeve Barry; Connor, Leeanne, Maxx, and Joan Durkin; and Grace and Luke Menslage. He leaves many devoted nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends. 

John also leaves his sisters Arlene F. Yenovkian and her husband Donald, Kathleen F. Donoghue and her husband Thomas, and his brother Thomas F. Durkin and his wife Judith. He was predeceased by his brother Anthony M. Durkin and his sisters Maryellen Deianna and Marguerite Hebert. 

John was born in Worcester, the son of Mary (Guilfoyle) and Anthony Durkin. He was a proud graduate of Worcester State Teachers College in 1954 and received his Master’s in Education from Worcester State in 1958. He earned his Education Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975. 

John was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 1956, having served as a First Lieutenant. He was stationed in Puerto Rico during the Korean Conflict.

He dedicated his 39-year career to the Worcester Public Schools, beginning as a teacher and coach at West Boylston School and retiring after serving as Superintendent of Schools for thirteen years. The Worcester Public Schools’ Administration Building was named in his honor in 1999. After retirement he enjoyed roles as Assistant Director and Founder of the Massachusetts Academy for Math and Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and as Executive Director of the Center for Effective Instruction at Worcester State University. 

He was an active member in the Emerald Club, a communicant at Blessed Sacrament Parish, and an enthusiastic supporter of the many extracurricular activities and interests of his grandchildren. John was also an avid golfer and traveler in his retirement. He loved spending Februaries in Key Largo, Florida, with his wife Joan and many invited guests. 

John’s family wishes to thank the staff of Southgate in Shrewsbury, where he lived for the last six years, and appreciates his devoted caregivers, especially Margarita Wood, who helped him maintain his independence until his death. 

Funeral services are private. All are invited to a Mass in celebration of John’s life on Friday, October 7, at 11:00 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Church, 551 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bridgewell, Inc., the nonprofit agency that supports John’s granddaughter Annie. Bridgewell, Inc., Autism Division, 10 Dearborn Road, Peabody, MA 01960 or at



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