from the University of Toledo in 1969 after studying
social work and political science. He also graduated from
Swanton High School in 1948.
Durán married his
high school sweetheart, Emily Cantú, in 1953. He was born
in Crystal City, Texas on Nov. 13, 1929 and moved to Swanton
with his family as a teen.
Durán once worked
at Jeep, he was best-known as a radio host and a community
advocate, when he worked for the Toledo Catholic Diocese as a
Hispanic outreach coordinator.
Durán spent more
than five decades on the airwaves at WFOB-AM 1430 in
Fostoria, co-hosting a Tejano music show that had a number of
names over the years, most recently Radio Fiesta. The
radio program also featured
and conjunto music. The Saturday radio show became
popular with migrant-farm families working the farm fields
across Northwest Ohio, much like his own family had done. Many
called Durán with special dedications for birthdays and other
events. The show, which started in 1955, aired its final
broadcast at the end of August 2008.
“I take pride in having produced a Spanish radio program for our
community. It wasn’t the Spanish from Spain or México, but the
humble Spanish that my parents taught me while growing up in
Durán in a 2008 LaPrensa article detailing his radio
Felipe Pérez of Findlay were
honored in September 2002 at an annual Hispanic Heritage Banquet
by the Fostoria Hispanic Awareness Committee for their
many years as DJ’s. “Their informative and selected music has
enlightened and nourished our cultural background with
continuing pride in our culture and ourselves,” said committee
member Mario Díaz in a 2002 La Prensa preview of
Durán also served as a concert promoter, bringing Tejano and
other bands from Texas and Mexico to Northwest Ohio. When his
son Sylvester Jr. was president of the Latino Student Union
at Bowling Green State University in the mid-1970s,
the pair collaborated to bring in a
concert with Mexican movie and recording star Vicente
Fernández, at the time in the prime of his entertainment
career. Durán often entertained himself, as a singer and guitar
Those he impacted in the local music scene also paid tribute to
Durán on social media.
“The world lost a great man. He’s dancing and singing with the
angels today,” wrote Natasha Salazar-Stoner, lead singer
of the Black Swamp Rebels. “I will miss you ‘Grandpa’
“He wasn’t just the life of the party. He was the party,” wrote
mariachi singer Jacob Estrada. “My grandfather and
brothers sang at Mr. Durán’s wedding. I had the honor of singing
with Silvestre many times. Thank you for all the fun and great
“He gave me my love for music, taught me art, was at all my
games, even coming to my band’s shows. He taught me how to stand
up for what you believe in at a very young age marching with
FLOC,” recalled grandson Steve Longoria, Jr. on Facebook.
“Most importantly, he taught me about family and how to be a
great father. So, until we can play music together again, every
time I strum the guitar you will be on my mind.”
was blessed to have made the acquaintance of Senor
Durán—advocate in the community, supporter of our música Tejana
and a smooth dancer,” wrote Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra, lead
singer of Yvonne y Grupo Fuego. “I smile at the
remembrance of his gritos.”
For a time,
Durán owned and
operated a Mexican restaurant in the Old South End, located near
SS. Peter & Paul Church. He named it in honor of his late
father, calling the restaurant Don Ysidro’s. Durán’s
entire family worked in the restaurant.
Durán earned a number of accolades and awards for his decades of
Latino advocacy work, including a Diamante Award in 1999.
Durán was a founding member and board president of La Raza
Unida de Ohio. He also helped to establish and served as a
commissioner on the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino
Affairs under then-governor Richard Celeste.
Durán was a lifetime member of the Farm Labor Organizing
Committee (FLOC), often attending rallies and
demonstrations. Just before he turned 90 last year, he traveled
with FLOC to North Carolina to protest the treatment of migrant
farmworkers in the tobacco fields.
taught GED classes and served on numerous other boards,
committees and commissions over the years.
Mr. Durán was preceded in death by his parents, Ysidro and Petra
Durán, and his siblings: Esperanza, Delfina, Marٌía, and Petra.
Durán is survived by his wife of 67 years, Emily; siblings José
(wife Josefina deceased) Durán; Sesario and Lucy Durán and
Ysidro and Vina Durán and Petra and Reyes Montes; four children:
Sylvester Jr. (Margarita De León) Durán; Robert Durán (Sue
Dianda); Yvonne (James) McHugh and Felicia Durán; 14
grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren and many more primos,
tios and tias.
memorial mass will be held at SS. Peter and Paul Church for
family members only. A celebration of his life is being
postponed to a later date due to COVID-19.