Saturday, July 3, 2010

In Memoriam: Larry Hurt (1952-2010)

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 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 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

"Mr. Hurt:
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!
Love you
Tyne Swedish"

"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 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 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.

Carrie C."

"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.


IndyDem said...

someone was just asking me about him yesterday at work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for posting this blog. My name is Daniel Suits, I was a student of Larrys during a crucial time in my life. I was dealing with being gay, coming out was a huge weight on my shoulders and Larry knew that. I confined into him and he gave a damn when no one else did. I wish that I had made the effort to see him during my last trip to Indy Oct. 09. He literally saved me from myself at time when the world was so bleak.. tears, now. He was my savior and I will never forget him as an artist and gay man. Larry made me what I am today, not my parents. He encouraged me to be myself, that being gay was only a small percentage of who I am. He gave me th courage to stand up on my own two feet. I adored him, admired him and loved him. My thoughts and love go out to Tom and his family.
Sincerely, Daniel Suits

Chris said...

Well Said Mr. Easter, he will be missed

Woolhimima said...

Larry was my dear friend, we are shaken to our core by his passing. thank you for your kind eulogy.

Woolhimima said...

Thank you for this great tribute to
my hero, brother, friend. Larry was luminous, beautiful beyond measure. Our grief is horrible, thank you for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

I had him as a teacher when he first came out of school-I liked him a lot; his classes were one of the few bright spots in an otherwise very dismal high school experience. Very tragic to hear this...

Jesse Temple said...

Larry was an amazing teacher and an amazing man. I had his art classes throughout my high school career at Ben Davis and will never forget them(or him). He helped me change the way I perceived art, the way I perceived the world, really. I think he did that for a lot of us. He pushed us to pull out the emotion in all of our work, to really feel it, and to relate to each other. His classes were a community, with each passing year it grew. He cared about all of us and never gave up on anyone. He will always have a special place in my heart and mind.

-Jesse Temple

gena_rose said...

Thank you for this post, Jon.

Larry Hurt was a true genius. He was a loving, hilarious, beautiful soul. Those of us blessed to be his students, looked up to him not only as a mentor, but a father figure. He taught me how to channel my “passionate personality” into positive creativity. Larry never judged us trouble youth. Instead, he embraced us, flaws and all. Larry’s kind heart provided us with better focus and greater confidence.

25 years ago, Larry Hurt motivated me to "GO GET INSPIRED!" when I had to have 9 major works of art, matted and ready for Scholastics, and I found myself in a creative rut. Of course, the clock was ticking. Without him, I don’t think I ever could have accomplished the goal. He is why I have an art studio today. We chatted a couple weeks ago and he told me that he still tells his students stories about me. I was floored! I’m so honored to have had that conversation with him.

Larry Hurt changed lives. His ripple effect is a powerful one. We can honor him by following the ripple he left each of us with.

Heaven is more beautiful now!

Gena Rosenbaum

Anonymous said...

Larry touched many lives in SO MANY different ways. He will NOT be forgotten, but always remembered by so many individuals!


Emily Warren Jensen said...

I went to BD, but never had the opportunity to be one of Larry's students. I also attended church with him, but still didn't know him well. He and his choir were the highlight of any service they were a part of. He made everything he touched more beautiful. Thank you for your post. God Bless Larry and Tom and their families.

Marycatherine Barton said...

So sorry for your loss. Jon, and the world's. May Larry Hurt rest in peace.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I'm sorry you lost your friend Jon.

Sara said...

I recently found out that Larry had died. I met him during his trips around the state when he was teacher of the year in 1999. He visited my campus, Indiana University South Bend, several times, and spoke with my students (future teachers). I will never forget Larry's passion or clarity about what teaching was to him. I am humbled to read what his students say about him. My life is enriched for my brief times with him. My condolences to family and friends. Heaven is so much richer for Larry's presence.

- Sara Sage