James Arnett Gore

Longtime Durango resident James Arnett Gore died Sunday, March 31, 2013, at his home. He was 95.

Known as “Jim,” he was born to James and Hazel Gore on Aug. 14, 1917, in Bayfield. He grew up in Oxford and attended a small two-room Oxford school.

In 1941, Mr. Gore joined the Army Air Corps and was trained as a navigator for the B-17 “Flying Fortress.” Deployed to the European Theater during World War II, his plane was shot down during a mission over Germany in June 1943.

Mr. Gore was held in Stalag Luft III, a prisoner-of war-camp in Poland, for 675 days. Stalag Luft III was the site of the “Great Escape” in 1944.

After a forced night march in the middle of winter as the Russians were approaching, Mr. Gore and his fellow P.O.W.s were liberated April 29, 1945. In June of that year, he was released from his military service with honors.

Upon moving back to Durango, he began courting Dorothy Klusman. The couple married Sept. 15, 1945.

The Gores moved to California, where Mr. Gore trained as a mortician at the Los Angeles College of Mortuary Science. The young couple returned to Durango to find a saturated funeral home market, so Mr. Gore began working in insurance sales for Metropolitan Life.

In 1964, he decided to change careers and pursue teaching. Mr. Gore returned to school to obtain his teaching credentials and began instructing fifth grade at Riverview Elementary School in 1965. Mr. Gore also taught at Smiley Junior High School. He retired in 1982.

Mr. and Mrs. Gore spent many years traveling after their retirement.

Mr. Gore was an active member of the Durango Narrow Gaugers Chorus, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Shriners at the Durango A.F. & A.M. Masonic Lodge No. 46.

“Jim was proud of his U.S. military sacrifices,” his family said. “He attended reunions and even returned to Germany in 2005 to retrace his steps from his capture to his release.”

Mr. Gore is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dorothy Gore of Durango; daughters Evelyn McLaughlin of Bayfield and Carolyn Scott of Highlands Ranch; two grandsons; one great-granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews.

Cremation will occur. A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6, 2013, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 910 East Third Ave. The Rev. Ken Malcolm will officiate. Burial will occur at Oxford Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Durango Narrow Gaugers Chorus, 622 East Third Ave., Durango, CO 81301; or the Shriners Hospital for Children, Fairfax Road at Virginia Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84103.