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Popular Lynn teacher/writer killed in Marblehead car crash

COURTESY PHOTO
Michele Durgin.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Michele Durgin, a lifelong Lynn resident and local educator, died Saturday evening in a Marblehead automobile accident.

Durgin was driving shortly after 5 p.m. when her car left the road in the vicinity of 134 Tedesco St. and struck a tree. Neighbors came to Durgin’s assistance followed by emergency medical workers. The accident was listed with a fatality in the Marblehead police log shortly after 8 p.m.

Michael Durgin on Sunday morning did not have additional information on the cause of his sister’s death or immediate information on funeral arrangements. Family members and friends gathered through Saturday night and Sunday morning at the family’s Cedar Street home where Durgin’s mother, Helen, lives.

“We are a typical close-knit family. As traumatic as this is, it is the process of being part of a family,” Michael Durgin said.

He expressed special appreciation for Marblehead and Lynn police officers who comforted the Durgin family in the first hours of their loss.

A lifelong Lynn resident, Michele Durgin was the daughter of Helen and the late Harold “Hal” Durgin. She was the second oldest of six siblings – sisters Marcy and Maura and Michael Durgin and his brothers, Matt and Mark. She leaves 14 nieces and nephews.

Durgin attended St. Mary’s grammar school and Breed Junior High School and graduated Classical High School. She earned her degree at Salem State College before starting her teaching career at the former St. Jean-Baptiste grammar school in Lynn.

Pope John XXIII High School Interim Head of School Carl DiMaiti knew Durgin for 27 years. A member of the Durgin extended family, he recalled on Sunday how St. Jean-Baptiste’s closing brought Durgin to St. Mary’s in 1990 where she worked as junior high coordinator.

DiMaiti was a history teacher at St. Mary’s at the time and he remembered the close bonds Durgin forged with students.

“As an administrator, she could be very stern. But she went out of her way for kids. There were so many who were close to her,” he said.

Durgin liked to joke that she never cooked at home, opting instead to share meals one night to the next with one sibling or another. The mere mention of family unfailingly triggered a lengthy, laughter-filled conversation about the people she loved.

“Family was of critical importance to Michele,” DiMaiti said.

Durgin served as St. Mary’s dean of students during the last three years of her 23-year St. Mary’s career.

She subsequently worked for the Lynn public schools as a liaison between the public schools and area private schools. She began writing feature stories for the Item in 2015. She rejoined DiMaiti at Pope John’s in Everett beginning last September, teaching theology and English composition.

“The kids loved her. She was the consummate Catholic teacher,” DiMaiti said.

Pope John’s will hold a Monday morning school assembly to remember Durgin.

Easily recognizable for her smile and her walks along Ocean Street with her dog, Jack, Durgin brought humor, her encyclopedic knowledge of Lynn, and love of the city and her family to the Item newsroom.

She knew the city by heart and often greeted people, saying, “You were one of my students … I taught your son or daughter.” A diligent worker who never turned away assignments, Durgin wrote the article published in today’s edition and two others are scheduled to be published this week.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Durgin family at this time. Her kind heart and words will be missed,” said Item Chief Executive Officer Beth Bresnahan.

 

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at [email protected]

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