Dr. John J. Hurt, age 83, enfolded in the love of his family, passed away at his home in Kennett Square, PA, on Saturday, January 15. He had been in good health until January 12 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Joyce Ash Hurt; his daughter, Christiane Hurt and her husband Blake Rahn of Chapel Hill, NC; his son, Charles Hurt and his wife Trisha Hurt of Seattle, WA; and his brother, Robert H. Hurt and his wife Virginia Armat Hurt of Washington, DC. Other survivors include his grandchildren, Griffin Rahn, Calder Rahn, Carson Hurt, and Annalea Hurt; as well as his sister-in-law, Elaine Robey and her husband John Robey of Virginia Beach, VA. His first wife, Anne Phelps Griffin of Troutville, VA died in 1986.
John joined the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Delaware in 1969 and taught there until his retirement in 2015 when he became Professor Emeritus. He served as Chair of the History Department from 2008 until 2013, served the University in several additional administrative appointments, and always enjoyed teaching students.
John’s skill as a classroom teacher and his insatiable appetite for reading made him a popular lecturer during his and his wife’s years living in the West Chester area and later at the Kendal-Crosslands Community in Kennett Square. His book reviews blended teaching with a generous helping of his trademark dry humor and quick wit.
His academic focus was European history with a specialty in seventeenth and eighteenth century France. He also taught courses on the French Revolution and Napoleon. However, later in his career he focused on military history and World War II. He taught a survey course on military history, and an upper-level course on World War II. He led frequent student tours to Europe with regular visits to Normandy and other World War II and World War I battlefield sites.
With coauthor Steven E. Sidebotham, he published in 2014 a widely reviewed book, Odyssey of a Bombardier: The POW Log of Richard M. Mason. The book recounts Mason’s arduous experiences and includes his talented drawings from his time as a prisoner of the Germans after his B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber was shot down over France in 1944.
John also published Louis XIV and the Parlements, the first scholarly study of the political and economic relationship of Louis XIV to French judicial bodies: the parlements of Paris and provincial tribunals. John conducted his research in France over a period of years by locating and analyzing original 17th and 18th Century texts. His work upended some theories of how King Louis XIV’s actions shaped the history of early France and the monarchies of Europe.
A native of Atlanta, John was a summa cum laude graduate of Mercer University in Macon, GA, and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served on active duty as a Military Intelligence officer in the U.S. Army in Washington, and in Europe, from 1962-1964 in between his M.A. and Ph.D. studies at Chapel Hill.
John and Joyce were long-time parishioners of Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Chester, PA. John served as an usher, was an active member of the Tuesday Fellowship group where he gave frequent talks, and led classes for the adult Sunday School.
More than anything, John was a family man. He loved traveling with Joyce, visiting his grandchildren, learning about new parts of the world, and was continuously working to master his German language skills. He will be remembered for his “zapping” game that made children squeal, his constant newspaper reading, and his endless love of books. He is leaving a deep legacy of curiosity and learning for all who knew him. He was deeply loved and will be remembered always.
A memorial service will be held 11AM Monday April 25, 2022 at Westminster Presbyterian Church 10 W. Pleasant Grove Rd. West Chester, PA 19382. A reception will follow in the parish hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the University of Pennsylvania Hospice Friends Fund or the Crosslands Residents’ Association, stipulating the “Crosslands Library Fund” at address 1660 East Street Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348, in honor of John.
Arrangements are by Matthew J. Grieco of Grieco Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. (484-734-8100). For online condolences, please visit www.griecofunerals.com
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