By Jon E. Easter
No Saturday Humor today. I'm just not in the mood. Moved it to Sunday. I need to exercise my personal prerogative and take a moment to introduce you, my friends, to a friend of mine that passed away on Thursday night.
You know those moments in life when you were completely floored by news. Well, I had one of those moments on Thursday night. I still haven't come to terms completely with it, and I don't think it will seem real until Tuesday at the viewing.
On Thursday night, my friend and colleague from Ben Davis High School, Larry Hurt, arrived at choir practice at St. Christopher's Catholic Church. He would never make it home.
My friend and colleague, Larry Hurt, was dead at 57.
I read that sentence again and again, and it's not real yet. How could this ICON, a true Giant among the Ben Davis Giants...be snuffed out? His voice silenced. His talent taken away from us. Just like that.
Makes you think doesn't it? I'm sure Larry didn't wake up on Thursday planning to die that night. I guess sometimes it's better that way? I don't know.
I've heard many rumors about how he died at the church. All of them say it was sudden. The story of his death, though is nothing compared to the story of his life and its inspiring impact on others.
Larry, a 1970 BD graduate, taught at his alma mater for years. He was one of the founders of the Arts Alive Festival in Wayne Township. He never ever ever ever gave up or slowed down. Unlike many teachers who were at advanced stages in their career, he just got better as the years passed. He was someone that you just couldn't forget even if you didn't have him in class.
Beyond his awards for teaching which included a Disney American Teacher Award, an Indiana Teacher of the Year Award, and countless honors selected by his students, Larry Hurt's heart was always in the right place. He cared about getting the most from his students and was always ready to help his colleagues reach the toughest students. He could have done different things in his life, but Larry Hurt decided to be a classroom teacher. I will all remember him that way.
Reading through the comments on his Facebook page left by those he touched has been so difficult, but it has been so cathartic. Here is just a few of the impromptu tributes.
"Clearly Heaven was in need of a musical smarty pants to get a choir ready and paint something beautiful for when it is our turn--i keep looking at your picture uncle larry and it isnt real truly isnt, nope it just cant be. I can still hear your laugh while you clap your hands(loudly i might add) or looking over the top of your glasses to look at your iphone that you clearly loved a little too much you freak. i wish i had words to tell these people who loved you what kind of an uncle you were, you deserve at least that and i cant find them. as i listen to the words of the song unforgetable its hard to not put you to that standard. the great thing about you was that you had no idea how brilliant you were and how much of an instrument you were to your students, friends and especially, your family. i consider myself lucky to know the man named Larry Hurt." --Taylor Pulliam
"The world has lost one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. Larry thank you for touching my heart and life. Your passion for teaching will forever touch many lifes. I think about how many kids have you have changed, sparked their enthuasiam for art and learning. you made a difference!!!" --Cathy Danyluk
"Mr. Hurt, I can't believe I'll never be able to visit and terrorize your class again. You were such a huge influence in my life and work. Even now, when I'm working on projects and I feel like I've finished, I hear you saying, 'Payton, I know you can push this further, you know you can...so do it!' I always talk about you to my college friends and teachers, spreading the word of 'The Hurt'. :) You were the greatest mentor a young artist could have and I'll carry you with me always. Love, Payton" --Payton Mitchell
You made such an impact on me in High School on forming me into the woman I am today! But you never stopped there did you? You continued to teach me and improve me to today. Your passing feels as if someone has stabbed me in the heart. I will miss you everyday Mr. Hurt! I shall teach my children all that you have taught me. And you shall live on through me everyday!
"Larry- Thank for being my mentor and my friend- I couldn't have asked for more. I will continue to look to you for guidance and wisdom. I hope you know that you meant the world to me...you were a saint on earth now angel in heaven..." --Ashley Borosh
"Mr. Hurt, you are the reason I have such a great love for art and why it has such a huge role in my life today. You helped cultivate my creativity and for that I can't thank you enough. I've always said that you were my favorite teacher of all time and I'd have to guess that you were the same to thousands of other students. You will be missed greatly, but your influence will live on forever." --Mark Shirar
"I can never say thank you enough for showing me that art was more than pretty pictures of staying inside the lines...you taught me that art can be as imperfect as I am! You introduced me to Jackson Pollock and for that I love you!! You will always live in my heart as the most perfect teacher known to man. I tell my students to this day how you have inspired me. I miss you and you will be in my heart forever Mr. Hurt.
"Larry saved my life with art, I can never say thank you enough, for seing past my faults and helping me find my way into the art world. God bless Mr. Hurt" --Brian Presnell
"I feel so honored that I was able to work with you for the past 3 years. You have made me a better teacher through your extraordinary knowledge and willingness to help. You will be sorely missed, but will continue to inspire me and all who teach." --Justin Allison
"Larry was the most positive, influential male figure in my life. I wanted so
much to be like him. I wanted to live life like him with lots of love,
friends, joy, music and wine. He was amazing. He renewed my faith in the
church. He renewed my faith in other people. I am who I am today
because of what Larry, and through him the St. Chris choir and
community, gave me. I loved him so much. I feel like I've lost my dad." --Jarrett Meyer
Larry Hurt left this Earth on Thursday, and I'm still in shock. I do take comfort that I was able to know him and to pick his brain about education before he passed away. I will treasure the conversations in the hallway with him, and I will miss his smile and intelligence. There are generations of Giants that are feeling his loss. That zest and zeal to shape young minds never left him. He is irreplaceable.
Education lost a great teacher on Thursday night, and I lost a good friend.