“Norton Warren Hurd, 104, founder of Hurd’s Hardware in Deltaville, passed away at home in Deltaville on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.
He was born on Sept. 15, 1916, in the Hurd homeplace built in Deltaville by his grandfather just after the Civil War.
Norton attended school across from the home prior to graduating from Syringa High School. He learned about waiting on others by working in his father’s grocery store.
Norton graduated from Lynchburg College in 1938, where he majored in History and excelled in baseball, basketball and was tennis team captain.
Norton taught and coached at Amelia High School from 1938 until June 1941. Realizing that U.S. involvement in the war was inevitable, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He trained as a pilot, explaining, “I would rather be up there pitching than down here catching.” Lt. Hurd trained other pilots in open cockpits in the Minnesota winters prior to requesting transfer to combat. Lt. Hurd flew dive bombers and fighters from the U.S.S. Wasp, with missions in the Pacific Theatre. His exploits 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. Lt. Hurd was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism.
After the war, Norton returned to Deltaville and opened Hurd’s Home Appliances, which later became Hurd’s Hardware. He met Alvine Taylor, who lived across the street at Taylor’s, her parents’ restaurant, and declared her the most beautiful woman he ever met. He encouraged her to compete in the Miss Rappahannock contest, which she won, and she was crowned first runner-up in the Miss Virginia pageant of 1946. They married in 1947.
Norton was known as being very pleasant, caring, witty, and a true friend to customers at Hurd’s. He made appliances available to people who could barely afford them, gave sporting equipment to children, welcomed newcomers and visitors, and helped grow the spirit of helping others in the community. He re-opened the store after hours for someone needing fuses or plumbing parts or had an emergency.
He was a founder of the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department and the Middlesex Volunteer Rescue Squad and was a past president of both. Prior to 911, his work and home numbers were emergency numbers in the phone book. Upon receiving a fire call, he would run to the fire station to activate the siren, and was a fireman and rescue squad driver.
Norton was a founder and president of the Deltaville Community Association and helped bring sidewalks and streetlights to Deltaville. He served on the County Airport Committee in the 1980s. Norton was a charter member of the Middlesex Lions Club, a past president, and remained a Lion until his passing.
Norton loved Philippi Christian Church and served as a deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher, and board chairman.
A lifelong Democrat who attended state conventions in the 1960s, he supported integration and desegregation, and on those principles, he campaigned for Republican Linwood Holton for governor in 1969.
Norton helped local people obtain credit and grow their businesses by serving on the board of directors of the Bank of Middlesex and facilitated merging with First Virginia Bank-Middle Peninsula, serving as chairman.
Norton played baseball with the Deltaville Deltas for three decades and with the Urbanna team when requested, and was a big “hit” at the Old Timers’ games when he was in his 90s. You would not know that he officially “retired” from Hurd’s in 1986, supposedly turning over the store to his son Jack, given that he worked there until he was 101! He loved serving customers, and his oft spoken phrase was, “Can I help you with something?”
Norton played golf until age 99. He said that it was easier to shoot his age the closer he got to 100.
Norton donated blood until he believed that he was too old for anyone to want his. His accomplishments (to date) were read into the Congressional Record in 2006. He was honored in 2007 by becoming one of only two persons who have received the Lynchburg College community service Beacon of Excellence award. Other honors include induction into the Lynchburg College Sports Hall of Fame, Urbanna Oyster Festival Grand Marshall, Deltaville Days Grand Marshall, 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.
His 100th birthday party was celebrated at the Deltaville Maritime Museum and in Maryland by the U.S. Navy Band.
A humble man who did not seek honors, Norton was most proud of his students, being able to help customers at Hurd’s, and his family. He truly lived the Lions motto, “We serve.”
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 (Beth); and grandchildren, Amy Hurd (Holly White), Jon Hurd (Katy), Madeline Hurd, and Carter Hurd; and great-grandchildren, Maggie Hurd and Henry Hurd.” –Obituary published in the Southside Sentinel