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Homer T. Hurst


1919 - 2011 Obituary Condolences
Homer T. Hurst Obituary
Homer T. Hurst, 92

Homer Theodore Hurst, 92 years and 6 days, died quietly at home on October 31, 2011. He was born October 25, 1919, and grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, the fourth of nine children of Theodore and Elva Harvey Hurst. As an avid reader, his mother explored the world widely through books, including the classics, which she obtained through a rural library system. She named her second son after the Greek poet, Homer, and fostered his adventurous spirit. She instilled a love of learning in her children and encouraged them to develop their full potential through education. Homer's formal education was interrupted by work on the farm and also by global events. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and learned to fly, which became a life-long passion. Homer and Beverly May Arnold, a former classmate and registered nurse at Norfork Dam, were married on January 1, 1945, before he shipped out to fly missions over the South China Seas.

After World War II ended, Homer returned stateside to start a family and to resume his education using the GI Bill. He completed his engineering degrees at Ohio State University and accepted a position in 1955 as a research professor at Virginia Tech. He built his career developing innovative construction techniques to conserve materials. His experimental designs promoted energy conservation using passive solar principles. He was nationally recognized for his research and earned awards from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He became a charter member of the National Institute of Building Sciences and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the committee to update Virginia's building codes.

Affordable housing for all was a deeply felt purpose, reflected in Homer's work and in his support of Habitat for Humanity. He was a man of faith and served as both a deacon and an elder in both the Blacksburg Presbyterian churches. He was proud to serve in the Naval Reserves for 20 years and was active in the American Legion until recently. Travel remained a great passion, and he especially loved to fly his single-engine plane to business meetings across the country. He was fearless and incredibly lucky, surviving two plane crashes before Beverly extracted a pledge from him to give up piloting any aircraft. After he retired from Virginia Tech in 1990, he devoted himself to running the rental property business he and Beverly had built up over the years.

All his life, Homer valued hard work, thrift, and conservation of resources. As a developer, he applied many of his values and construction principles to his designs. An optimist and an idealist, he saw the potential in everyone. He touched the lives of many and had a heart especially for those struggling to make ends meet. He and Beverly welcomed students from all over the world into their home and made many life-long friends. Homer especially was given to philosophizing at length over Sunday dinner, and he encouraged curiosity about other cultures and open discussion among those present. He and Beverly promoted a love of learning for the sake of learning and provided the means for many family members and others to pursue their education. His life was full of accomplishments, but he took the greatest pride in the accomplishments of his grandchildren.

Homer will be missed by friends around the country and by a large family including four children (Ted, Hyla, JaNan, and Rhoda); ten grandchildren (Lori Meese, Stacy Minichello, John Hayden Curtis, Leila and Jenna Strickland, Adam and Jessie Hurst, Rehanna and Navid Rojiani, and Sonja Flora); and eight great grandchildren (Mallory, Anthony, Brayden, and Savannah Minichello; Benjamin and Hope Meese; Levi Strickland Guiliano; and Amanda Flora); spouses of his offspring; and two sisters and many nieces and nephews. The family especially wishes to thank Howard Runyan, for his friendship and devotion to Homer. We wish to express our gratitude to the wonderful caregivers at Human Touch and to the staff of Good Samaritan Hospice for their empathy and guidance through these difficult times.

The family will receive visitors at 1:00 p.m., followed by a Memorial Service at 2:00 on November 12, 2011, at McCoy Funeral Home at 150 Country Club Drive in Blacksburg. Immediately following the service, all are invited to attend the interment, with military honors, at Memorial Gardens of the New River Valley, north of Blacksburg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Community Foundation of New River Valley, PO Box 6009, Christiansburg, VA 24068, or to Northside Presbyterian Church, 1017 Progress Street, Blacksburg, VA 24060.

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Published in Baxter Bulletin on Nov. 9, 2011
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