The City of West Hollywood lowered flags to half-mast today at City Hall and throughout the city to honor the memory of Carmen Gloria Duran, who died yesterday.
Duran was the mother of West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran. In an email message to City Hall staff announcing the flag lowering, Steve Campbell, the city director of facilities and recreation services, said that “by all accounts Mrs. Duran was as lovely as she was feisty; she was a force to be reckoned with.”
Campbell noted that she was a leading Latina activist in Southern California and had been a member of the Los Nietos School District board. “She worked each and every day throughout her life to make her community a better place,” Campbell said.
Councilmember Duran was in Washington, D.C., with other Council members at a National League of Cities conference when he learned of his mother’s sudden and unexpected death.
“I am getting on an airplane back home to Los Angeles ASAP,” Duran posted on Facebook early yesterday morning. “I am heartbroken because my beautiful Mother Carmen Gloria Duran passed away this morning. If you knew my mother – you know how important she is to me and all of my family. I am not sure how to start this day or how to move forward from here …..”
Gloria Duran, 79, was profiled by Sandra Molina in 2013 in the Whittier Daily News, which chronicled her community activism.
“About four decades ago, she dived into the role of activist on behalf of her family and her community, which continues to this day,” Molina wrote. It cited her engagement with public education, which began when she was asked to recruit students for the Head Start program, where her son Tony was a student.
“As she met and talked with a group of older women who gathered at Los Nietos Park, her volunteerism expanded to include school and church groups, as well as the communities of Santa Fe Springs and Los Nietos,” Molina wrote, noting the Gloria Duran’s home was in the middle of those communities.
Gloria Duran’s community work included involvement with the California School Board Association and the Santa Fe Springs Family and Human Services Advisory Committee and Sister City Committee. She also had chaired the Santa Fe Springs Senior Citizens Advisory Committee, the Whittier chapter of the Women’s League of Voters and the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults.
One of her more dramatic activities was parachuting from an airplane with her son John, a gay man who is HIV positive, as part of an effort to raise money for an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.
In her Facebook profile, Gloria Duran proclaimed her political activism and also called out her husband, children, grandchildren and a great grandchild, who are her survivors.
“I am a great grandmother very active in politics,” she wrote. “I have been married to Eddie Duran for 53 years. We have four children: John, Tony, Ricky and Terese. We have seven grandchildren: Anthony, Valarie, Ryan, Kayla, David, Sarah and Kevin. And one great grandchild named Delilah. “