William Charles ‘Bill’ Hurly Jr.
William “Bill” Hurly, 70, Minot, died Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in a Minot nursing home.
Bill entered the world on the 17th of August, 1943, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot, the first of nine children born to William Charles and Helen Elizabeth (Banchy) Hurly.
Bill was a lifelong resident of Minot, graduating from St. Leo’s elementary, from Bishop Ryan High in 1961 and from Minot State College. He attended St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minn., where he was a classmate of Vince Lombardi Jr.
For roughly 30 years, Bill was a fixture on the local sports scene, playing on numerous fastpitch softball teams with such local legends as Don Fricke and Jeff Dockter. He reserved his deepest passion for basketball, however. His face decorated amateur team photos for years, joining teammates like John Bryant, Mike Maybo and Tommy Schettler. Bill also refereed girl’s high school basketball for years. His passion for the game started early and his high school experiences connected him with some important names in the sport, both locally and nationally. His Ryan High team was coached by Dale Brown, future head coach of the LSU Tigers, and of Shaquille O’Neal. Brown’s assistant was Ron Erhardt, future head coach of the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator of the New York Giants during two of their Super Bowl titles under Bill Parcells.
Bill (Hurly) recalled one notable Ryan home game against the Williston Coyotes, when, as a senior, a tall gangly freshman for Williston made his first appearance in Minot. Little did Bill or anyone know that this particular kid, named Phil Jackson, would go on to win two NBA championships as a key backup with the New York Knicks in the early ’70s, and follow it up as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA, coaching the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers to 11 titles, combined. Funny to think that in the Bishop Ryan gym that night, Bill was playing for and against Shaquille O’Neal’s future college and professional coaches, respectively. Bill also played ball against possibly the best players to ever come out of Minot, Paul Peterson and Mati Parres, of Minot High. Bill coached basketball for a time, as well.
Bill was also a very close friend of local sports legend, Ookie Hammond. His love of sports extended beyond Minot, however. Those who knew him were keenly aware of his great passion for the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees and Green Bay Packers. Growing up a young sports fan in the 1960s had that effect on him. Bill was proud to have travelled to the three great Meccas of American sports, the Boston Garden, Yankee Stadium and Lambeau Field. While attending college in St. Paul, he also worked as an usher at the Minnesota Vikings’ original venue, Metropolitan Stadium. He recalled Vince Lombardi prowling the sidelines when the Packers came to town and had the privilege of speaking with the legendary coach when he came to pick up Vince Jr. from school at St. Thomas. One of Bill’s clearest memories from the Met happened during a game between the Baltimore Colts and the Vikings, when Johnny Unitas skidded a pass off the turf in the corner of the end zone, hitting Bill in the leg.
Bill attended St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Minot his entire life. As such, one of his greatest mentors in his formative years was Monsignor John Hogan, a fixture at St. Leo’s when it was still a high school. Another strong influence was Fr. Blaine Cook, principal and administrator of Ryan High in its early years (Bill was a freshman when Ryan opened its doors in 1957). Fr. Francis McKenna, cynical Irishman and longtime pastor at St. Leo’s Church, also played a role in Bill’s spiritual life. Bill was witness to one of Fr. McKenna’s greatest sermons, concerning being prepared for the collection plate when it comes your way. In his inimitable style, Fr. McKenna produced a woman’s purse from which he sought to generate a few coins for the collection. Feigning haste and confusion, the good vicar culled sundry items such as a giant set of rosary beads, a piece of fruit and finally, a handgun, before finally stumbling onto a few coins for the church. No doubt a great moment in the history of St. Leo’s Church and the community of Minot and a bit of Irish humor to which Bill could relate.
Bill served in the North Dakota National Guard for several years after suffering through boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. His educational journey eventually landed him in the teaching ranks. He student taught in Sawyer and landed his first full time teaching gig in Deering, where he also became principal. He spent many years teaching at Memorial Junior High at the Minot Air Force Base and ended his teaching career at Jim Hill Junior High in Minot, where he taught social studies for years.
Bill’s summers were passed in the shade of the cottonwoods and elms in Roosevelt Park, across the banks of the Mouse River from his boyhood home in Eastwood Park. He managed Roosevelt Pool and Oak Park Pool for decades. Under his tutelage, generations of Minot youngsters played their roles in the annual ritual of summer. Manning the lifeguard stands, sitting in the ticket office watching the softball games unfold in Field #1, and making the short journey to Lunder’s Kiddyland for sunflower seeds and Coke, Minot’s sons and daughters passed languid hours in the comfort of “The Park.” Bill watched over it all. Bill’s evenings at the pool took a back seat every year in July, however, when the North Dakota State Fair came to town. Bill worked the booth for Straight’s concessions for years, hawking foot-long hotdogs and corn on the cob. It wasn’t so much that he liked selling wieners and corn; he just enjoyed seeing so many of his Minot friends in one place.
Bill was a faithful friend to those who knew him best. Despite his idiosyncrasies, he forged friendships that lasted. He was just fun to hang around with. He loved doing tricks off the high dive at the pool, along with fellow divers Lance Cree and Darryl Limke. He hosted a citywide whist party every year at his home. He loved shooting pool with his friends (15 and 1 in the side pockets) and taking his boat up to Lake Sakakawea. In his 30s, when he still had cartilage in his knees, he could be spied running for miles through town with his faithful running partners Eddie Baker and Jimmy “Bimbo” Olson (and all of Jimmy’s dogs).
Whether he was aware or not, Bill was a historian at heart. He was a chronicler of the history of Minot. He religiously kept scrapbooks, documenting decades of local history alongside national and international events. His den featured pictures of every sports team for which he had ever played. He loved John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Larry Bird, Buddy Holly, the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy. He made his football picks at the Barley Pop Bar, come hell or high water. The year he had his knee replaced, his mother was enlisted to drive him around.
His love toward his friends and family was expressed through acts of service. He enjoyed making music and movie recordings. He could keep his friends on the phone for hours (if his Jack Nicholson answering machine didn’t pick up first). He loved and idolized his father and rarely missed an afternoon visit with his very best friend, his mother. He took great pride in his home, his yard and his garden, and shared the fruits (and vegetables) of his gardening labors with anyone who expressed an interest. His living room was a virtual theater for watching the Yankees, Celtics and Packers (Bill was not a Vikings fan; for confirmation of this fact, contact Pat Jones).
Bill was a lot of things, at once historian and chronicler, cynical humorist, spiritual searcher, friend, brother, teacher and son. He was unique, his own man and he was quintessential Minot. He was stubborn to a fault, but protecting a tender heart. Sad to think that Bill has passed from our midst and that we will never see him in this life again. The streets of Minot will never again hear the approach of that distinctive 1971 sky blue VW bug, driven by the guy with the mustache and the long black hair, the top down and the music blaring. Bill has taken the last ride to his final resting place, to his eternal home, in the arms of his heavenly father.
Survivors include: his mother, Helen E. Hurly, Minot; brothers, Michael (Jaclyn Isaacson), Joplin, Mo., Joe (Lori Leonard), Sioux Falls, S.D., and Jim (Breeze Taylor), Amarillo, Texas; sisters, Mary Helen Hurly, Tucson, Ariz., Teri Hurly, Minot, (special friend George McLaughlin) and Lou Sagsveen, (John) Bismarck. Nephews and nieces included Michelle, Michael and Sean Hurly, Sarah and Joe Mostad, Anne Dahmen, Maggie Kuklok, Patrick Sagsveen, Erin Perry, Adam, Sam and Keith Hurly and Aden, Reagan, Sadie and Liam Hurly.
Preceding him in death were his father, William C. Hurly; brother, John Patrick Hurly; and sister, Mary Catherine Hurly.
Mass of Christian Burial: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at 11 a.m. at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, Minot.
Vigil prayer service: Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, Minot.
Visitation: Friday from noon until 5 p.m. at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot, then continuing at 6 p.m. until vigil service time at the church.
Burial: Rosehill Memorial Park, Minot.
Those wishing to sign the online register and share memories may access the online obituaries section at (www.thompsonlarson.com)