ADRIAN — Clyne “Ted” W. Durst, Jr., a lawyer, community philanthropist, and activist who campaigned for the failed 1998 ballot question to allow doctor-assisted suicide, died Aug. 20 at Grand Court Adrian after a lengthy illness. He was 83.
In 1997 he organized a Lenawee County group to support a referendum to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1998.
Mr. Durst was motivated by the memory of his brother, who suffered from a painful terminal brain tumor in 1992, and being unable to grant his request to help him die.
“I believe in individual liberty, making your own choices,” Mr. Durst said during that campaign.
He was born Oct. 27, 1930, in St. Louis to Dorothy and Clyne W. Durst. He moved with his family to Grand Ledge, Mich., and nicknamed himself Ted because he shared a birthday with Theodore Roosevelt.
Mr. Durst received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Michigan.
His wife, Joan, said her husband was a devoted fan of University of Michigan sports.
Mr. Durst moved in 1957 to Adrian to join the Baker & Baker law firm, with which he remained until his retirement in 1999. He founded several businesses, including Roto Plastics.
Mr. Durst was elected to represent Lenawee County in the Michigan Constitutional Convention in 1961 and then campaigned for the new constitution.
Friend and fellow Kiwanian David Siler said Mr. Durst was on the quiet side but was bursting with ideas for projects. “He was very much an entrepreneur,” Mr. Siler said.
“For the last 10 or 15 years, he has been a driving force behind the Lenawee County Historical Museum. He donated a lot of money toward displays,” Mr. Siler said.
Mr. Durst was involved in leadership in many organizations, including the Adrian Jaycees, the YMCA, the Adrian United Fund Drive, the Adrian Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Judges Retirement Board, and the Bixby Hospital Board.
Among his projects were development and construction of the Kiwanis Riverview Terrace senior citizen housing, new city entrance signs, beautification of traffic islands, and restoration of the flagpole on the county courthouse.
He led the campaign to establish Trestle Park and the Kiwanis Trail, an eight-mile hiking and biking trail from Adrian to Tecumseh. A new trailhead and park on West Maumee Street is planned for land donated by Mr. Durst and will be named the Ted Durst Kiwanis Gateway Park.
His first wife, Jean, his high school sweetheart whom he married in 1952, died in 1968.
Surviving are his wife, Joan, whom he married in 1969; sons, Chuck and Craig Durst; daughters, Connie and Cindy Durst and Jeni Neff; stepsons, Mike and Greg Smith; stepdaughter, Kathie Williams; sister, Mary Jane Siego; 11 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Wagley Funeral Home, Adrian, followed by a memorial service at 1:30 p.m. there.
The family suggets tributes to the Lenawee County Historical Museum, Hospice of Lenawee, the Lenawee Humane Society, or the Boys and Girls Club of Lenawee.