H.W. Durham was born in Knoxville, TN. He moved to Memphis in 1917 and founded the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company. Following the sale of Cosmopolitan Life in 1955, Mr. Durham and his wife, Roberta, established the H.W. Durham Foundation, which built and operated a retirement home for active senior citizens for over 30 years. In the summer of 1988, the Foundation's Board closed the home and established a grantmaking foundation in further fulfillment of Mr. Durham's desire to return to the community many of the blessings bestowed upon him in life.

The Foundation's focus on aging issues honors Mr. Durham's stated desire to serve "God's Older Children".