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Norton Hurd: A lifetime of helping people

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Norton Hurd accepts the 2013 Pride of Middlesex Award from Middlesex Rotary Club president Pam Waldron (left) as his wife Alvine (right) joins in the celebration. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

Norton Hurd, the 2013 recipient of the 15th annual Pride of Middlesex Award, lived by the advice he gave his children.

“It takes a long time to earn a good reputation, and it takes a short time to get a bad one,” was one of Norton’s sayings, said his son, Mike Hurd, who spoke at the award ceremony on Saturday at Christchurch School.

“Norton Hurd is here tonight partly because of his lifetime spent earning a great reputation,” Mike told the large audience who attended the banquet.

Mike summarized Norton’s life by asking the audience what sentence has his father repeated the most. The answer: “Can I help you with something?”

Norton started Hurd’s Hardware in Deltaville in 1946 and today, at age 96, he’s still waiting on customers.

Helping people in the store and in the community is something Norton has done most of his life, said Mike. He was a teacher at Amelia High School, a coach, a flight instructor, a Sunday school teacher, and a church leader at Philippi Christian Church. He helped establish the Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, the Middlesex Lions Club, and the Deltaville Community Association. Norton also was a jury commissioner and served on the Middlesex Airport Committee. For 25 years, Norton was on the board of directors for the Bank of Middlesex.

“He did more than help customers,” said Mike. “He helped visitors find comfort in knowing they had a local business where they were welcome and had a friend they could depend on.

“He taught others about the equality of people, and to treat people the same, regardless of race, sex or whether they were rich or poor,” Mike said. “People who were born here or came here have all been treated the same, and all of them know they have a friend in Norton Hurd.”

Lifetime of service
Norton’s older son Jack also spoke and noted that his father was only the second person to receive from Lynchburg College the “lifetime outstanding citizenship award.” Another speaker noted that Norton will be featured in the Lynchburg College alumni magazine this fall.

Norton is disappointed when his store does not have what a customer is looking for, said Jack. Norton overheard Jack tell a customer, “I can’t remember the last time we had any, and I don’t know when we will get any.” Norton anxiously wanted to know what the customer wanted. “Rain,” was Jack’s reply.

“Even if he wasn’t my father,” said Jack, “he is one of those people who makes you feel like you’re a better person, just for knowing him.”

Myra Wall, Norton’s daughter, said that she kept a letter her father wrote her while in college. “Think with your head, and not your heart,” was his advice.

Middlesex Rotary president Pam Waldron, who said she is a “come here,” recalled how she enjoyed it when Norton would visit a local restaurant while she was there. “If you could overhear the conversation at the men’s table, you knew what was going on in town.”

Norton Hurd designated that the $1,000 award, raised by the Pride of Middlesex Awards, go to Hands Across Middlesex.

The remainder of funds raised goes toward college scholarships.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 04.10.2013

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