Freddie O. Durant, 79, political organizer, beautician, author of published novel

April 22, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Freddie O. Durant, a beautician, Baltimore political organizer and author of a novel published by her son, died Sunday of complications from an infection at the FutureCare nursing home in Randallstown. She was 79.

After she graduated from the Apex School of Beauty and Culture in Baltimore, she was a self-employed beautician for 32 years, first operating Durant's Beauty Shop and then working out of her Ashburton home. She retired in 1998.

Her hospitality and wit led clients to spend not just a few hours, but the day with her, said Mrs. Durant's daughter, Sheila Brooks-Tahir of Baltimore, a senior counsel with the city housing authority. "They'd never leave - they'd eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there."

Freddie O. Jackson was born and raised in Atlanta and attended Clark College there for two years.

In 1946, she married Luke Durant, and they moved to the Baltimore County community of Turners Station, where Mrs. Durant served as PTA president of the old Turners Elementary School. The family moved to Baltimore's Ashburton neighborhood in 1960.

Mrs. Durant's husband, who worked for Bethlehem Steel, died in 1993.

When the couple's three children were young, she began writing. In the early 1980s, to help make his mother's dream come true, a son, Luke Durant Jr. of Baltimore, published a novel she wrote nearly 30 years earlier, The Donaldson Mansion - a love story and murder mystery about a woman who was bored, poor and resentful.

In an interview in 1986, she told The Sun that the main character, Frieda, was the opposite of herself: "I had a husband that worked. I had more money than the law allows. I had children that I loved."

Mr. Durant said she wrote a sequel and a few other manuscripts that he hopes to publish.

During the 1960s, Mrs. Durant was a political worker for the Democratic Party in the city's Fifth District. She served as hostess and ran political events at the Brothers Two nightclub owned by her family and operated by her sons in the 1970s and 1980s.

She also helped her sons open three Something Good candy stores in Baltimore. The family still owns one, at Mondawmin Mall.

For almost 20 years, she was active in the New Life Clinic at Mount Washington United Methodist Church.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Lovely Lane Baptist Church, 3606 Mohawk Ave. in Baltimore.

Mrs. Durant also is survived by another son, Dexter Blake Durant of Baltimore; three sisters, Ethel Tucker of Glens Falls, N.Y., Elma Jackson of Los Angeles and Dorothy Anderson of Boston; and six grandchildren.

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