Baker City, Oregon
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Maurice Charles Hurd, 86, of Lindsay, Texas, a former longtime Baker City resident, died Oct. 3, 2004, at his home.
His graveside funeral with honors will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Pastor Billy Ledbetter of the First Baptist Church of Muenster, Texas, will officiate.
Maurice was born on March 1, 1918, at Ekalaka, Mont., to Wallace and Hazel Kinsey Hurd. He married Marcella Mae Dotson on March 26, 1950, at Sidney, Mont. The couple had three daughters: Susan, Maureen and Laurie.
In his youth, Maurice worked on his father’s ranch herding sheep and cattle, haying and performing other ranching duties. He would often be hired out to work on other ranches, performing similar tasks. Once in 1936, he was hired to put up Russian thistle for hay in North Dakota.
It was also in 1936 that Maurice joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. Through the CCC he worked on road construction through Roosevelt State Park in North Dakota, and served as a hospital orderly and a radio operator. The last job carried over into his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He enlisted in the Navy in December 1939 and served as radioman 3rd Class. He served aboard the USS Houston, which sank after being torpedoed in the Battle of the Java Sea on Feb. 28, 1942.
Maurice and the other survivors were captured by the Japanese and spent 3 years as prisoners of war. During that time Maurice worked to build a railroad through the Burma jungle, replanted a rubber plantation, and later mined coal in Japan.
He was discharged from the Navy at Bremerton, Wash., on April 1, 1946. At the time of his release and discharge after the end of the war, he had served for six years, three months and 18 days.
For his service and his time spent as a prisoner of war, Maurice received the American Area Campaign medal, a one-star American Defense medal, a three-star Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign medal, a one-star Philippine Defense medal, a World War II Victory medal, a one-star Good Conduct medal, a one-star Presidential Citation and the Prisoner of War medal.
Once back in the United States, Maurice took advantage of his GI Bill of Rights eligibility. He enrolled at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., in 1947. During his last year in college, he worked for a radio station, KOOK, at Billings where he performed duties as the broadcast engineer and other related tasks.
In 1951, he earned bachelor’s degrees in history and political science. Maurice taught junior high and high school for nine years in Montana and California. He taught history, math and science as well as directing school plays and sponsoring a radio club.
He learned to square dance in California and later taught it in college. He called square dances at Townsend, Mont. In the summers between school years, Maurice often worked on ranches for the Soil Conservation Service to support his family.
In 1959, Maurice decided to quit teaching and return to school. He earned a master’s degree in ranch management from Montana State University at Bozeman in 1961.
After graduation, Maurice went to work for the Bureau of Land Management, first as a range conservationist. At Lakeview he acted as “chief of party” in the surveying of 700,000 acres.
In 1963, he went to Vale where he spent 4 years publicizing the Vale Project. At Vale, he handled many aspects of public relations and training in the production of films, photographs and brochures as well as speaking and conducting educational and informative tours.
Also to his credit from his tenure at Vale, was his production and scripting work on the film, “This Waiting Land.” He spent the rest of his career with the BLM at Baker City, where he retired in 1978 as a realty specialist.
Maurice and Marcella made their home at Baker City until 1998, when they moved to Lindsay, Texas, to be closer to their daughter, Susan, and her family.
During his retirement years, Maurice continued to be active. He found his greatest pleasure in a number of hobbies that he practiced during his working years and some that were newly acquired. He enjoyed photography, cooking, gardening, traveling, genealogical research, playing the organ, and his favorite, woodworking.
In his later years, Maurice read the Bible faithfully and attended the First Baptist Church of Muenster, Texas.
During his lifetime, Maurice was a friend to many and devoted in his love for his wife and his family. His perseverance and steadfastness inspired both love and respect from not only his family, but also from the many people who came to know him.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Howard; and sisters, Clarice Thomas, Lorena Flynn and Meryl Avery.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Marcella; daughters, Susan McIver of Gainesville, Texas, Maureen McIlroy of Sedona, Ariz., and Laurie Bruun of Tacoma, Wash.; seven grandchildren, Andrea Brinton Haga of Arlington, Texas, Stephen Brinton of Wilmington, Del., Anna, Aaron and Nathan Bruun of Tacoma, Wash., and Ashley and Stephanie McIlroy of Sedona, Ariz.; one great-grandchild, Olivia Haga of Arlington, Texas; a sister, Helen Maschera of Phoenix, Ariz.; sons-in-law, Mark McIver, Dan McIlroy and Carl Bruun; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to Home Hospice of Cooke County, P.O. Box 936, Gainesville, TX 76241.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, October 8, 2004
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor