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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Durr keeps peace between Dombrowski and Foreman

At one point, James A. Dombrowski and Clark Foreman shared responsibility for the Southern Conference on Human Welfare. Because of their different personalities, Durr found herself trying to maintain peace between the two of them.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

SUE THRASHER:
Do you remember any kind of tension between Dombrowski and Foreman?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Oh, good God, yes! Talk about being a bridge! It was like walking a tightrope. You couldn't have had two people that were more different than they were. You see, Jim was the most meticulous human being that I have ever known. There wasn't a cent that was spent that wasn't duly noted. He was very slow because he was so perfectly meticulous. Every dime was accounted for. Everything had to go through the proper channels. Everything had to be certified and checked and rechecked. Clark was a very impetutious, quick person. He would have a bright idea and he wanted to put it in action right that minute and he wanted to get the money. He would run here and run there to get this done. Of course, Jim had to know why and get a voucher and all kinds of things. It would drive Clark crazy. So, he and Jim were just constantly at odds. It was so difficult. They both had great qualities but they both just got on each other's nerves. We just tried to keep them going together and not flying apart.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What else was pulling them apart besides that difference in styles?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
I can't think of anything else, really.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But how did you try to deal with it, to act as a bridge?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Don't ask me. It just seems to me that I spent hours and days of my life trying to make peace between them. But Jim never would say, you see, he's a very controlled and contained person. But Clark would just get mad and break out and it was really difficult.
SUE THRASHER:
Was there any competition between them about the leadership role?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
No, no. Not at all. Jim was perfectly satisfied being the secretary. He didn't have any desire to be . . . no, no, it wasn't that, it was just a complete difference in personality. One was very methodical, extremely careful, particular. Jim was absolutely meticulous. Everything that he does, he plans ahead and does exactly right. Have you ever seen his paintings and etchings and all? Well, I think that they are beautiful works of art but every line is absolutely meticulous. And Clark was just a very explosive, high tempered, very impetuous guy and he always had bright ideas that he wanted to put over. It was a very trying period.