Youth theater founder Suzanne Duran dies at 66

A gathering to celebrate Suzanne Duran’s life will be held on May 30.|

Suzanne Coleman Duran, the founder of Broadway Bound Kids in Sonoma, died on May 19. She was 66. Duran had been suffering from leukemia for the past two years.

Duran was born and raised in Daly City and graduated from Mercy High School in Burlingame. She lived in San Francisco throughout her 20s. She and her husband, Paulino, met when they were both working for the Daly City Recreation Center. They married in 1975, moving to Sonoma in 1984, where they raised three children – Paulino, Katie and Sarah.

“They wanted a slower-paced life,” said Sarah.

Paulino Duran went on to become the head public defender of Sacramento County.

The Duran children were active in a youth theater group in Sonoma from a young age, but when the director of the theater relocated, it left a void, said Sarah Duran. So, in 1995, Suzanne founded the youth theater group Broadway Bound Kids.

“She was the heart and soul behind BBK and did a lot of the work behind the scenes,” said Sarah. She passed her passion for youth theater on to her children, who continue to run the popular local program.

“Over the past 20 years, my mom was a mother to thousands of Sonoma kids through BBK,” said Sarah. “She was the most empathetic, loving, kind and thoughtful person one could know.” BBK expanded over the years to include programs in Napa and Marin.

Suzanne Duran was also active at St. Francis Solano School throughout the years that her children attended, as well as at Sonoma Valley High School and Justin-Siena High School.

Duran is survived by her sister Linda Madden, her husband Paulino, her children, Paulino, Sarah and Katie and her four grandchildren, Ellie Sunshine, Birdie, Dutch and Teddy.

“Her grandchildren were her biggest fans,” said Sarah.

Suzanne Duran sustained a bad fall in 2014 and was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.

“She had the unusually, comforting power of turning the hardest situations in life into ones filled with laughter and endless love,” said her son Paulino Duran. “The strength and resilience she showed especially in the last couple of years of her life are astounding.”

“She was always kind, always talkative and always curious which made her an amazing conversationalist even at her weakest,” said Katie Duran.

Friend Vicki Whiting, founder of Kid Scoop News, said of Duran: “She was truly the embodiment of love on earth. She was an angel on loan I think. I am blessed to have had her touch my life.”

Sarah Duran said that one of her mother’s most meaningful legacies was exposing her children and grandchildren to the arts.

“She brought us to concerts at Grace Cathedral and performances anywhere she could find them,” said Sarah. “After she passed on Sunday we all went to Grace Cathedral where she had taken us so many times before, to light candles and say a prayer for her.”

A celebration of Suzanne Duran’s life was held on May 30.

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