Earlier this month, the University of Lynchburg lost another notable graduate. Norton Warren Hurd ’38 died at his home in Deltaville, Virginia, on Jan. 8 at the age of 104.
A dedicated community servant and war hero, Hurd also was the founder of Hurd’s Hardware in Deltaville. He was born on Sept. 15, 1916, in the family home built in Deltaville by his grandfather just after the Civil War, according to his obituary in the Southside Sentinel.
Hurd graduated from Syringa High School and worked in his father’s grocery store before enrolling at Lynchburg College. At Lynchburg, he majored in history and excelled in sports. He played baseball, basketball, and tennis, and served as captain of the tennis team.
After graduation, Hurd taught and coached at Amelia High School from 1938 until June 1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves and trained as a pilot, saying that he’d “rather be up there pitching than down here catching,” according to the obituary. As a lieutenant, Hurd trained other pilots and flew dive bombers and fighters from the U.S.S. Wasp, with missions in the Pacific Theater.
Hurd was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism, which included “providing cover for troops in the Philippines, dive-bombing ships at Tokyo, shooting down a Japanese fighter, and crash landing next to the Wasp after his plane was disabled by antiaircraft fire,” according to the article.
He returned to Deltaville after the war and opened Hurd’s Home Appliances, later Hurd’s Hardware. He met Alvine Taylor at Taylor’s, her parents’ restaurant, and they married in 1947.
Known as a “pleasant, caring, witty, and true friend” to his customers, Hurd made sure appliances were affordable for people who didn’t have much to spend. He gave sports gear to children and “helped grow the spirit of helping others in the community.” He even re-opened his store after-hours if someone needed help.
He was a founder of the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department and the Middlesex Volunteer Rescue Squad and a past president of both. For many years, he was an active fireman and rescue squad driver.
Always one to help his community, Hurd was a founder and president of the Deltaville Community Association, which helped bring sidewalks and streetlights to the town. He also served on the County Airport Committee in the 1980s, was a charter member of the Middlesex Lions Club, a past president, and a lifelong Lion. He also helped locals obtain credit and grow their businesses by serving on the board of the Bank of Middlesex.
At Philippi Christian Church, Hurd served as a deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher, and board chairman. He supported desegregation and on those principles, campaigned for Republican Linwood Holton for governor in 1969, even though he was a lifelong Democrat.
A sports enthusiast until his final years, Hurd played baseball with the Deltaville Deltas for three decades and was popular at the seniors’ games when he was in his 90s. He also played golf until the age of 99.
While he retired from Hurd’s in 1986 and turned over the store to his son Jack, he worked there until he was 101.
Hurd’s accomplishments were added to the Congressional Record in 2006. He was honored in 2007 with the Lynchburg College Beacon of Excellence Award for community service. Other honors include induction into the Lynchburg College Sports Hall of Fame, Urbanna Oyster Festival Grand Marshal, Deltaville Days Grand Marshal, Middlesex Lion of the Year 2012, Middlesex Rotary Pride of Middlesex 2013, River Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross community leader 2014, and Lions International Melvin Jones Fellow 2016.
Hurd was most proud of his students, being able to help customers at Hurd’s, and his family.
He was predeceased by his parents, Jesse W. Hurd and Mabel Norton Hurd. He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Alvine Taylor Hurd; children, Myra Hurd Wall, Jack Hurd (Denise), and Michael Hurd ’86 (Beth); and grandchildren, Amy Hurd (Holly White), Jon Hurd (Katy), Madeline Hurd, and Carter Hurd; and great-grandchildren, Maggie Hurd and Henry Hurd.
A graveside service was held on Jan. 14 at Philippi Memorial Gardens in Deltaville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department or the Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad.