I remember the first time I talked to Sean Duran—a colleague, a mentor, a friend. It was on the phone. A couple of years ago, now. At the time, I was in Spain working on a project for the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium and Telefónica’s Talentum Schools. He was just picking my brain, as he would usually say when bouncing ideas off of his colleagues. He wanted to know if I would be interested in joining the team developing the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. With a fresh building on the way in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, it was time to assemble a tight team of professionals to instigate its many offerings. During our first conversation, he struck me as a casual curious minded and creative individual with a passion for science museum exhibitions, graphic design, and informal education. The call was amusing, and timely. By then, I had already decided to switch careers. Nevertheless, I had to complete the project I was working on, and asked if we could meet a few months later, once I would be back in Florida. “You got it,” he graciously said before wishing me the best, and hanging up.
In a way, he is the main reason I had the opportunity to join Frost Science. At a time when I was not sure my diversified background would be seen as a liability rather than an asset, as I transitioned to the world of informal education, he believed in me. I would forever be grateful to him for that alone. But he offered me, and those around him, so much more.
He looked willowy and graceful. He would prefer a pair of Converse, jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie over business casual any day of the week; thank goodness for Casual Friday. He used to skate, something that taught him not only how to fall but, most importantly, how to stand up stronger. Outside of work, baseball was one of his passions. He was fond of the Miami Marlins, and one of those who truly believed good things were coming to Little Havana. I will surely check on them on his behalf from now on.
Sean’s devotion to Frost Science and the world of science and technology centers was one of a kind, and his legacy will live on—whether talking about exhibition development or bilingual communication, to cite two examples. He was held in high esteem by his colleagues for his many and diverse qualities. One I will always remember him for, besides his particular sense of humor, is his distinct listening hue. When talking to him, while agreeing or disagreeing, I would always feel heard in a delightful way difficult to describe with words. He was oddly reachable. His opinion, no matter how strong, was never an excuse for him to avoid listening to other points of view in an inclusive and constructive way.
Sean, you will be dearly missed by your beloved family, your friends, and your colleagues. I vow to honor everything you taught us, even those things you did not know you did. You led your life through example. Gracias, amigo.
Sketch by Sean Duran