Mary L. Hurlock

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    - Linda Hurlock
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    - Jo Anne Wild
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    - Thomas Leigh-Kendall
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In the summer of 1950 Mary Hurlock left Baltimore, Maryland. She drove a 1940's Willy Overland Jeep with her three youngest to Alaska. Her husband Roger drove lead with the three oldest in a Studebaker sedan. They were all boys.
Roger's allergies, of hospital severity, caused him to close his real estate business and move to Juneau. They started a farm in the Mendenhall Valley and supplied Juneau with half of its eggs for a dozen years. Everyone knew her family name, and the brand -- Hurlock's Cackle Berries.
Accepted wisdom was that Auke Bay would always be the population center north of Juneau. Roger thought differently, and Mary trusted her husband's judgment. They used the farm income to buy a huge chunk of the Valley near the farm. It was elbow room -- the boys could shoot rifles on family property. Roger was a risk-taker, but Mary was the decision-maker. On the way to a fortune, she several times bravely signed on for a life of possible financial failure.
There was tragedy. The oldest son, Bob, died soon after high school. Though all the other children did graduate from college, she thought him the smartest.
Folks "out-the-road" were a small and close knit group of families that included farmers, loggers, mechanics, and tradesmen. Friends like the Walpoles and the Smiths remained extremely close for life. Mary's lively personality and tough spirit drew people to support her, her husband, and six boys. Sid Smith's wife Elizabeth was with Mary until the end.
In those days, relatives typically came for one visit in a lifetime. Mary's father John spent a summer helping son Don build an addition to their home. It was a brick house with a full concrete basement. Mary spent years cleaning, grading, and sorting eggs in that basement for the local markets. She was an excellent dressmaker with an eye for style. She became a favorite of her friends' daughters who followed her fashions.
She was a late riser, because her real work didn't begin until the boys had finished their chores. After finishing at night, she would read romance novels and write countless letters to her and Roger's families. Travel was extremely expense, the farm had no phone, and long distance calls cost a fortune. The families on both sides of the marriage had been their life, and she was living an unbridgeable world away.
Hollywood became their dream. Roger felt a dollar in the bank was a dollar wasted. So the couple sold land and bought stock in Allied Artists Motion Pictures. The farm became an increasing hardship as the son's left home. The couple moved to Beverly Hills, and Roger eventually became president of the the movie company, the 7th largest in America. They traveled to Cannes for the film festivals; he was a member of the Motion Picture Academy; and she attended the Academy Awards in elegant dresses and furs, as was the fashion of the day. It was quite a journey for a girl born and raised in a row house in an immigrant section of Baltimore where all the parents were still fluent in Czech.
But tragedy struck again. Son John died. Mary wanted to move back to Alaska to live on the still-secluded tract of land they had kept in the Mendenhall Valley. She could always been seen out with her large dog, come rain or shine "getting some air."
Mary and Roger had done well in Juneau real estate, and began donating developed lots to restart the high school construction program. She was extremely devout. Her son joked that she gifted the property on which the original St. Paul's church complex was built just so she could walk to church every day for mass. She did until she couldn't.
Mary is survived by sons Donald, Ronald, Thomas, and Lawrence. Predeceased by husband Roger.
Services will be held at St. Paul's Catholic Church on Atlin Avenue in the Mendenhall Valley at 3:00 PM on Thursday, August 28.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Aug. 25, 2014