Catholic 02

David Durbin

1930 ~ 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old


David Durbin…Hoosier Hospitality Personified

Revered hotelier (George) David Durbin, 93, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by the love of his family, on July 27, 2023. He was born March 13, 1930, to Leo & Mary (Cain) Durbin in Rushville, Indiana. 

David, the middle of seven children, grew up living and working in the family business, The Lollis Hotel, later renamed The Durbin Hotel. The three-story, small-town hotel, which was added in 1982 to the National Register of Historic Places, became known from coast-to-coast for the family’s gracious hospitality and delicious food and was thrust onto the world stage by Wendell Willkie when he selected The Durbin as his U.S. Presidential campaign headquarters in 1940. David attended St. Mary’s School and Rushville High School, graduating in 1948. After receiving a degree in business from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, David spent two years in the U.S. Army. He was a 1st Lieutenant and served in the Korean War as a forward observer in the artillery division. David led the efforts to establish schools so that servicemen could receive an education while continuing to serve on the ground in Korea after the end of the war.  

After returning home, David married his hometown sweetheart Jo Ellen Byrne (who he had bet his brother a dime-to-a-doughnut in the second grade he would marry) on May 21, 1955. David joined his brother Don, with help from sister Mary Lee, in managing the family business. At The Durbin, David’s artistic eye and creative talents helped to make the hotel a unique destination. After their parents retired from daily management, David and Don expanded the food service and banquet facilities, purchasing and converting adjoining buildings and adding a Sunday buffet which attracted over eight hundred diners each week and as many as eighteen hundred on holidays. And while David was courted by some at the top of the industry, including those at the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, he resisted recruitment to stay and run the family business and build his family. He also served as president of the Indiana Hotel/Motel Association during this time.  

In 1974, David and Don, as part owners and consultants, opened The Indianapolis Marriott, only the second Marriott property in the state of Indiana. After the family closed The Durbin Hotel in Rushville in December 1979, David joined Don (and later, younger brother Bob) in the daily management of the Marriott where they were able to combine the family’s tradition of service and hospitality with modernity of the global brand. The family incorporated their history throughout the hotel naming the dining room “Durbin Junction” and displaying special memorabilia in the Wendell Willkie Room. At the Marriott, David made daily dining, Sunday buffets, corporate parties, as well as special occasions of all kinds, an experience guests would always remember. All his children, and several grandchildren, too, had the pleasure of working with him at the property. After over twenty-five years at the Marriott, David retired in December 1999 and enjoyed the time since doting on his family and friends.  

Throughout his career, David inspired his many employees, always leading by example and with a warm smile, in delivering the absolute best in service. David was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2017.

Most important to David was his faith. He was a longtime parishioner of St. Mary’s in Rushville and St. Simon the Apostle in Indianapolis and was an active volunteer for many years with St. Vincent de Paul.     

David is survived by his brother John Durbin, sister Ruth Lynne (Durbin) Walsh, seven daughters – Sylvia (Lou) Zimmerman of Indianapolis, Kathleen (Rod) Porter of Indianapolis, Carol (Charles) Munsell of Indianapolis, Jean Thayer of Greenfield, Judy (Rob) Lee of Indianapolis, Patty (Pat) Horan of Indianapolis, and Mary (Roy) Sparks of Indianapolis; 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

David was preceded in death by his wife Jo Ellen, children Paul and Peter, his parents, Leo and Mary, sister Mary Lee (Durbin) Ball and brothers Jim, Don and Bob Durbin. 

The family would like to extend special thanks to David's caregiver, Ashanta Burnett, Kindness Care Solutions, and Community Hospice for the love and care shown to David.

Visitation will be 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. Saturday, August 5th at St. Simon the Apostle Catholic Church in Indianapolis with Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 12:30 p.m. Burial will follow at 4:00 PM in Calvary Cemetery, Rushville. Memorial contributions can be made in David’s name to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and to St. Mary’s School.  

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August 5, 2023

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Saint Simon the Apostle Catholic Church
8155 Oaklandon Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46236

Funeral Mass
August 5, 2023

12:30 PM
Saint Simon the Apostle Catholic Church
8155 Oaklandon Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46236

Graveside Service
August 5, 2023

4:00 PM
Calvary Cemetery Rushville
1033 N. Ft. Wayne Rd.
Rushville, IN 46173


St Vincent DePaul Society
512 N. Perkins St., Rushville IN 46173
Tel: 1-765-932-2599

St. Mary Catholic School Foundation
512 N. Perkins St., Rushville IN 46173
Tel: 1-765-932-2588


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