Distinguished professor.
Clarence O. "Clay" Durham Jr. PhD
  • 94 years old
  • Date of birth: Oct 20, 1920
  • Place of birth:
    Victoria, Texas, United States
  • Date of passing: Apr 12, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    Houston, Texas, United States
Let the memory of Clay brighten our moments and live forever in our hearts.

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Clarence O. "Clay" Durham Jr., PhD, 94, born on October 20, 1920 and passed away on April 12, 2015.  We will remember Clay always as father, friend and life long teacher.  


A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, May 22nd at 2:00 pm at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston.  
Church address:  12955 Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas, 77079. 

There will be a post service 'get together' at Hungry's Cafe located at 14714 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas, 77079.


Clay was born in Victoria, Texas, on October 20, 1920, the son of Clarence Durham, Sr. and Maud Leffland Durham. He was the grandson of Jules Leffland, a noted architect in South Texas in the late 1800's. Clay is survived by his daughters, Evelyn Durham and Amy Durham Wang, future son-in-law Matt Harding, son-in-law Warren Wang and three grandchildren, Sarah, Joshua and Matthew Wang. 

Clay attended Patty Welder High School in Victoria,Texas and in 1942 graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in geology.  At the onset of WWII he joined the Army Air Corps completing his professional certification in meteorology in Chicago before serving as captain in Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Buenos Aires.  After the war he returned to Austin to teach and in 1949 began work on his doctorate at Columbia University where he later completed his PhD.  In 1951 he began his geology teaching career at Louisiana State University.  From 1965-1969 he served as chairman of the Department of Geology and in 1966 became Director of the School of Geoscience, a position he held until his retirement from teaching in 1973.  It was then he devoted himself full time to oil and gas industry consulting, keeping offices in both Baton Rouge and Houston before returning to Texas with his family in 1978.  




Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by ken g martin on 20th October 2016

"Evelyn & Amy, I was fortunate to meet your father at start of Fall Semester, 1954 -- my first class at LSU.  I had thought Geology might be my Major, but was not certain until he locked me forever during that class.  He grew to believe in me as I did in him and let me tag along as one his field "assistants" through to graduation.  Excepting parents, no person came close to impacting my life as did he.  Aside from some-what taking me under his wing, no non-family member gave more of himself to me than he, leaving me proudly and forever indebted.  With most enduring admiration and appreciation . . . ALWAYS . . .     Ken"

This tribute was added by Nick Pollard on 28th April 2016

"Evelyn & Amy, your father had a profound impact on my life and career in geology.  My first son is named Clay in honor of your father.  I consider it an honor and privilege to have known and worked for and with him."

This tribute was added by Evelyn Durham on 13th April 2016

"Just to remember this one year since my Dad's passing.  It's been both sad and happy:  life accentuated.
Thank you to everyone who has expressed their sentiment toward Daddy, sharing his impact on their lives.
Life is in the stories we share.  Keep Exploring!"

This tribute was added by Robert Rodgers on 21st May 2015

"The first time I heard Clay's name was a grad. student at Baylor, who was working in the Austin Chalk, referenced his work. I finally met Clay at L.S.U., where I worked with him on a couple of NSF institutes, but never had a class with him. We enjoyed many trips to the field with the L.S.U. summer camp when we would take them through central Texas, and also through the Sierra Madres in Mexico.
We formed Gulf Geothermal Corp. in Baton Rouge in 1972, and later
it became Magma Gulf Co. when we formed a joint venture with Magma Power from California. We then drilled the second of the geopressured-geothermal Design Wells with the USDOE at Sweet Lake in Louisiana. The work was based on Clay's pioneering work in developing the concept. We also worked together for several years on the DOE High-Level Nuclear Waste salt dome storage project. Later, we worked together on some oil and gas projects and also on a coal project that didn't go so well. I spent many wonderful days in the field with Clay, always amazed at his insight and his ability to tie history, especially Texas history, to the geology.
It was  the close family relationship we had over the years that make Clay so special to my family. I learned that our daughters thought at one time that they were cousins. My family also became close friends with his aunt Rigmor Leffland, Aunt Reme, and his cousin from childhood, Margaret Smith, with whom he was very close. We've shared family weddings and loss of family together. There are so many ways for me to remember Clay, all of them special; mentor, colleague, business partner, friend, and teacher."

This tribute was added by George Hart on 20th May 2015

"In 1966 I arrived from Africa to meet my new boss Clay Durham.  The first thing he said was " you need to get out of those clothes, you are in Louisiana [I was in the traditional English suit, tie and overcoat and it was August!].  I pointed out I only had $200 as I had spent all my wealth getting to Baton Rouge!  He said: "I'll lend you a couple of hundred til you get paid and I'll get the South African student Dave Hobday to take you shopping".

A moment later Charlie Smith walked in and Clay [knowing I had been about to start a water-geology company before I left Africa said "this is Charlie Smith you can be on his graduate committee".  

Next came " what courses can you teach" and I replied anything to do with geology and he laughed and said "Great: how about Historical Geology and Structural Geology".

This is how I met my boss - all within 20 minutes! Clay was a man I had enormous respect for as a thinker and as a stratigrapher: the last time I spoke with him was a year ago when we reminisced about the Geology Department at LSU.  

The eMail informing me of Clay's death was sent on my  80th birthday - something which will link us even more in my memory..

Have a good time wherever you are 'Boss' - having fun was always one of your attributes we all loved about you

George Hart"

This tribute was added by louise durham on 5th May 2015

"Well, Clay, I originally wrote 'rest in peace'.  But that is so not you.  Instead, I can't help but think of you being somewhere out there regaling your buddies with ideas for your next Big Deal.  God bless Evelyn and Amy for their love and care ---Louise"

This tribute was added by Jack Schneider on 28th April 2015

"Evelyn and Amy; Pls accept my deepest sympathy in your loss. Except for my parents  and my wife, Dr. Durham was the most important person in my life. His intellectual brilliance and teaching techniques first available to me as a freshman at LSU, enabled a much more confident and competent later personal profile. Such morphed into our friendship wherein I dared address him as 'Clay', while privately ascribing 'Oracle of Delphi' admiration for him. I am profoundly saddened at this time, though somewhat relieved knowing he is on a great 'field trip'.
Jack Schneider"

This tribute was added by Evelyn Durham on 24th April 2015

"Daddy, you are my hero.  You helped me when I so needed it.  I worked so hard on your behalf because you deserved as much and find myself still wanting to.  Brilliant beyond belief, you will live on in everything related to nature and this earth and now in a field geologist's heaven!  I love you and keep you close to my heart.  So proud of you, your daughter, Evelyn."

This tribute was added by Bonnie Dayton on 23rd April 2015

"I've known Mr. Durham for the past several years through his lovely daughter Evelyn. Mr.Durham was an intelligent, engaging man who loved to talk about a variety of things; politics, current events, and his love of the world,  and geology. He always had something interesting and funny to say which is why at 94 yrs. old he still had long term friends and past students come visit and spend time with him.
He often spoke of how he loved his daughters and grandchildren, he loved all the pets who came to visit over the years, and will be missed by all of us."

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This memorial is administered by:

Amy Wang
Evelyn Durham


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