Paul Durham is fondly remembered one of the founding fathers of the Linfield College athletic program.
Over 20 years since he left Linfield to become athletic director at the University of Hawaii, Wildcat coaches continue to pass down to their athletes Durham's positive values of sportsmanship and scholarship. Now retired and living in Honolulu, Durham coached football at Linfield for 20 seasons, compiling a distinguished record of 122-51-10 (.694).
He guided the Wildcats to six conference titles and two appearances in the NAIA national championship game. His most outstanding seasons as coach came in 1961 and 1965. In 1961, Durham's Wildcats capped the first unbeaten, untied season in school history with a trip to the "Camellia Bowl" played in Sacramento, Calif. Linfield was the first school from the Northwest Conference to participate in the NAIA football playoffs. The Wildcats narrowly lost the national championship game, 12-7 to Pittsburg State of Kansas. Linfield again finished unbeaten and untied in 1965 and beat Sul Ross State 30-27 in the semifinals before losing to St. John's of Minnesota 33-0 in the so-called "Champion Bowl" played in Augusta, Ga.
In the season-opening football game of 1967, Durham brought the Wildcats to Honolulu, where they beat the University of Hawaii, 15-13, at rainy Honolulu Stadium. After the season - Durham's last as a Linfield coach - Hawaii hired him as its athletic director thanks to that upset win and for other reasons.
Durham was head football coach when Linfield's national record consecutive winning seasons streak began in 1956. The foyer that serves as main entry way into the athletics complex is named in his honor.
Competing in football, basketball and track, Durham was a star athlete at Linfield in the 1930s and is one of the few Wildcats in history to earn 10 or more letters. He graduated from Linfield in 1936, then coached at several area high schools before returning to his alma mater in 1948 to coach football and, starting in 1949, serve as the college's athletic director.
A colorful character, Durham moonlighted for several years as the sports editor of the local newspaper, the McMinnville News Register.