A quiet natured, generous spirit who loved the outdoors
WILMINGTON James J. Durkee, “Jim,” 93, a life-long resident of Wilmington, passed away at home on September 26, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was born on October 13, 1927 to the late Leslie A. and Alice E. (Simpson) Durkee. Jim was raised and educated in Wilmington and was a graduate of Wilmington High School with the class of 1945.

After one year studying engineering at Northeastern University, Jim enlisted in the United States Army in April 1946, in the aftermath of World War II. He served overseas as a Pharmacy Technician Fifth Grade and received the World War II Victory Medal. Jim was honorably discharged in October, 1947 and returned home to his family.

Jim went on to continue his education at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston where he earned his degree in Pharmacy. His long and rewarding career as a hospital pharmacist began at Children’s Hospital in Boston. After serving as Director of Pharmacy Services at Union Hospital (Atlanticare) in Lynn, he worked at Salem Hospital and North Shore Medical Center before retiring in 1995. Jim was also very active in and was the past president of the Massachusetts Society of Hospital Pharmacists. He was Massachusetts Hospital Pharmacist of the Year in 1977.

Jim’s knowledge also served his community well. For 18 years, he served on the Board of Health in Wilmington (1965 to 1983) in roles including Chairman of the Board. He also served as past president of the Northeastern Association of Boards of Health and Wilmington Family Counseling Services. In addition, he had served on the Board of Directors of the Regional Health Center in Wilmington, Incorporators of Winchester Hospital, and as Chairman of the Wilmington Drug Action Committee. After retiring, he spent many years volunteering at the Wilmington Senior Center and for WCTV.

Jim met Helen Rothwell, a fellow veteran, through a mutual friend at Children’s Hospital, and the couple married in 1961. Jim and Helen settled in Wilmington where they raised three wonderful daughters, Ruth, Judith and Mary. Jim was a very devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather. He worked hard to provide for his family, always encouraging them to do their best and supporting their decisions. Jim looked forward to the time spent with his family and friends. Whether it was family vacations, holidays, or just a Sunday dinner, he loved having everyone together.

Jim was a world traveler; he loved seeing new places, learning new cultures and meeting new people. His travels took him all over the United States, where he was proud to say he visited all 50 states and all over the world. Some of his more memorable trips were to China, Thailand, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, Norway, all over the Canadian Territories and the Caribbean. Jim and Helen enjoyed cruising, taking 30 cruises to various ports of call in their retirement.

An avid outdoorsman, Jim took his family on many camping and hiking adventures. Whether he was skiing Tuckerman’s Ravine, hiking in his beloved White Mountains, or on a mule train to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, his love and appreciation of outdoors and the care and preservation of those natural spaces were firm lessons to his children throughout his life.

Jim will be fondly remembered for his quiet nature, dry sense of humor, and generous spirit, donating many hours of time to the causes and organizations that were important to him. Jim loved his family and friends with all his heart, and he will forever be missed.

Jim was the beloved husband of Helen (Rothwell) Durkee of Wilmington. He was the devoted father of Ruth Kennedy and her husband, Daniel, of North Reading; Judith Melisi and her husband, Stephen, of Halifax, and Mary Ethier and her husband, Robert, of Wilmington. He was the loving grandpa of Zoe, Ewan and Aidan Kennedy and Olivia Melisi.

Family and friends will gather for visiting hours and to celebrate Jim’s life at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington on Thursday, October 14 from 4-6:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jim’s memory to the Buzzell Senior Center, 15 School St., Wilmington, MA 01887 or a charity of your choice. To send an online message of condolence please visit www.nicholsfuneralhome.com.