Louise McConnell Durante
February 16, 1927 - September 14, 2021
Louise McConnell Durante, who mentored youth before and after her two decades as an elementary school teacher, died on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at age 94 from complications of a recent stroke.
At the age of 40, she matriculated at University of Delaware at the urging of her late husband. With two sons in high school, she graduated with honors in three years and embarked on a 19-year career as a second and third-grade teacher at Greenville, Highlands and Lewis Elementary Schools. She joined her husband in retirement in 1989 so they could expand their travel beyond the summer months.
The second oldest and last surviving child of William J. and Margaret Price McConnell, Louise Frances McConnell was born in Philadelphia on February 16, 1927. She entered the workforce even before graduating from John Bartram High School, and converted to Catholicism shortly thereafter.
She married Albert W. Durante in 1950. His career as a chemical engineer for DuPont brought them in 1956 to Delaware, where she lived for seven years in Brookside, 54 years on Wilson Road in Graylyn Crest, and the last four years at Sunrise Senior Living on Shipley Road.
While at home with their sons, she undertook the role of den mother for Cub Scout Pack 205, devising weekly activities for up to a dozen boisterous Brookside boys, as she nurtured her own sons’ love for learning with books, backyard games and the use of imagination, while finding time to develop her own painting skills.
While teaching, she obtained her master’s degree and was active in the Delaware State Education Association, where she held lifelong membership.
In retirement, she and her husband traveled worldwide, often to Mr. Durante’s family’s ancestral home in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
After her husband died in 1996, she participated in the mentoring programs at Highlands School and St. John’s Cathedral, and for several summers traveled to Northern Ireland among the teaching corps of Ulster Project Delaware, which works to foster understanding and build friendships among youth from the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in that country.
She served on the board of directors of Pacem in Terris, the social justice organization that established the Ulster Project, was an usher at the Grand Opera House, and was active with the Wilmington Friends of Italian Culture.
Friends will remember Louise for her vivacious spirit, open-heartedness, and love of reading and music, particularly Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, whom she saw in the 1940s.
She is survived by her sons, Charles, a Wilmington lawyer, and Laurence, a New Orleans physician; their spouses, Janice and Melinda; her grandchildren, Morley, Julia, Isabel, William and Madeleine Durante; and her great-grandchildren, Alexander and James Long.
A memorial gathering will be announced when public health conditions permit.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts to Pacem in Terris, 1801 Jefferson Street, Wilmington 19802 or online by clicking here.