e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | March 22, 2013 Twitter Facebook

Music, song and memories

A celebration of Priscilla Payne Hurd (1919-2013)

“If one had asked Priscilla Payne Hurd what was expected of them,” said Christopher Thomforde, “she may have answered, ‘Give your life away.’”

So began Moravian College’s memorial service for Mrs. Hurd, who died February 5 at 93. She was known across the region for her philanthropic spirit and at Moravian for her love and devotion to the College community as well. Members of that community gathered at Central Moravian Church in Bethelehem on March 14 to pay their respects and celebrate her life. Thomforde introduced two speakers who knew her well.

Former Moravian president, Erv Rokke, speaks at the memorial service for Priscilla Payne Hurd.

Photos by Brenda Lange

“She was my most memorable boss,” said Erv Rokke, president of Moravian from 1997 to 2006 and Mrs. Hurd’s friend. “She built her life on her integrity — a virtue most crucial for leadership. Her words were thoughtful and crisp … she could grasp the essence of an issue and dissect it … and she expected the same in return.”

The result was an honest leadership culture which improved the lives of all who came in contact with her. In addition to her candor, Rokke praised her sense of service and excellence in all she did. These qualities were balanced out by her occasional short fuse. “She didn’t tolerate lengthy verbal recitations from male members of the board,” he added.

Rokke also recalled her love of burgers and chocolate sundaes at Bubba’s Restaurant in Quakertown and the enjoyment she got from sharing stories about the bucolic farms around hers in Springtown. “She brought the area to life for me with her stories,” he said.

“When she was around, we smiled more and stepped higher. Because of her, this national treasure is even better,” he concluded.

Chair of the Board, Lyn Trodahl Chenowyth '68, memorializes Priscilla Payne Hurd.

Lyn Trodahl Chenowyth ’68, chair of the Board of Trustees, added her thoughts, concentrating on Mrs. Hurd’s wit and sense of humor and her devotion to everything connected with Moravian College.

“She laughed a lot and her eyes sparkled when she did,” began Chenowyth. “And she kept that sense of humor to the end.”

She was a mentor to Chenowyth before the word was widely used, and the two women bonded over their passion for Moravian. And although she was not a graduate and had no family members who attended Moravian, “she loved the faculty, staff and students and the great tradition of Moravian,” said Chenowyth. “And she always asked me about the ‘kids.’ I want you all to understand how much you meant to her.”

Mrs. Hurd’s “uncanny ability to read people, shrewd intelligence, quick wit, drive to thrive, and ability to ask the right questions in the right way — never demeaning and always insightful” made her a phenomenal role model.

“Thank you for being a constant guiding presence,” Chynowyth said, addressing the portrait of Mrs. Hurd that was poised on an easel to her left. “Thank you for your gifts of service, friendship and love.”

More photos are available on Moravian's Facebook page.