In a community such as ours, we are wonderfully connected, our lives are shared, our stories are told, we participate, speak up, let our opinions be known. When we lose someone the sadness often lingers because we have made these meaningful connections and that person won’t be part of the spark that helped us to enjoy life and to do better – and maybe what I describe is the true meaning of loss.
Like many, I was saddened to hear of Betty Hurd’s passing, yet simultaneously I was filled with a sense of gratitude for having known such a remarkable woman and educator. She taught High School English for over 20 years in the Warwick School District. Betty had energy, enthusiasm and a quick sense of humor. She was an engaged person- which meant that she was driven to accomplish. This was what she did as a teacher but also a member of her Church and the Warwick Historical Society and in every aspect of her life.
It was what she accomplished that gives us a sense of her strength and vision. The state-of-the-art media center at the High School has its origins in Betty’s understanding of the need for communication arts in our school curriculum. She did this with little fanfare and with hard work and a dose of dreaming. Once a reality, it found its life in the hundreds of students who were literally turned on by the use of language and equipment to report news or to communicate a story- she transformed book learning into life learning and career training. Education has taken its cue from programs such as this and is now opening up new worlds and possibilities for our young students.
When Betty joined forces with Historical Society Curator, Michael Bertolini, to host a weekly radio show it was a wonderful example of how to shake the dust off of history and to make it relevant. So, I suppose Betty was a mover and a shaker! Most importantly, she was a woman of kindness. She was direct and eternally resourceful. She loved Warwick and participating in making it a better place whether the simple acts of selling homemade apple butter for Christ Church at Applefest or delivering Meals on Wheels. She was an intrinsic piece of what continues to make us a community.
I reflect on the many conversations I’ve had with Betty overtime. The topics were as varied as the wind – politics, history, everyday life. In those conversations, there was always a sense of revelation, news, and often encouragement peppered with humor and thus the sign of a true educator! She was a friend to Warwick, and we were so fortunate to have grown by her side, to have known her and to have had her in our midst. We will miss you, Betty. Thank you for the many gifts, your talent, love and the simple joy you so graciously shared.
The next Village Board meeting will take place on Tues., Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 77 Main Street.
The above column, written by Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, has been published in the Jan. 15 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.