Harry Marcellus Hurdle Jr was born September 6, 1932 in Baltimore, Maryland to Harry Marcellus Hurdle Sr & Florence Doederlein Hurdle, joining big sister Lois Ellen. He died January 21, 2017 after a year-long battle with Multiple Myeloma.
Harry attended grade school in Baltimore & the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, an all-boys high school that appealed to his inquisitive mathematical mind. He graduated in 1950 & after taking time to have some fun, started working at Catspaw.
In 1952 Harry, along with his mother & father moved to California to be closer to Lois who lived there with her husband & son. On April 3, 1953 he was drafted into the Army during the Korean Conflict. He took basic training at Fort Ord & from there was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. The young US Army Infantryman, MOS 1745, was part of a Company to take cold weather training on Mt Rainier at the beginning of winter for 2 weeks then on to Alaska to see if a Company with such little cold weather training could function effectively in the Alaskan winter. Harry was the number 1 BAR man for his squad as they walked through Denali, up across Big Delta & on to Elmendorf AFB because most of the rolling stock failed because of the extreme cold.
He was honorably discharged on April 1, 1955 & returned to his home in the San Fernando Valley where he went to work for Lockheed Aircraft at Burbank as a riveter working on the Constellation. It was while there that he met & married his first wife, Thalia Sorgi. He learned that Lockheed Missiles & Space Company at Vandenberg AFB was hiring & paying to move new employees to the town of Lompoc, located between San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara. There 3 daughters were born & Harry began what would become a 28 year career, starting as a technician working installing camera equipment into the payloads of early missiles being launched at Vandenberg.
In the late 60’s he was promoted & began his career as an Industrial Safety & Hygiene Engineer where he worked closely with the Air Force on various launch complexes. In 1973 he met his future wife, Becky, who had come to Vandenberg after working at Lockheed in Sunnyvale. They were married in 1979 & they began their life together & he introduced her to the Owens Valley. He was the only member of the Safety Office for either Lockheed or Martin who successfully passed both the Core & Comprehensive examination to become a Certified Safety Professional.
April 18, 1986 was a defining day in his life, as well as Becky’s. That morning (just 3 months after the Challenger tragedy, a Titan 34D blew up 7 seconds after lift-off from Space Launch Complex 4 East. It was 45 agonizing minutes for Becky waiting to hear & finally word came that everyone in the blockhouse was okay. Very soon after that she reminded him of the ‘early retirement package’ was being talked about & in 1987 they wrote out their plan of action & began the journey to make a dream come true – to live in the Owens Valley.
They have lived in Big Pine since July 1, 1989 & Harry was able to live his dream – fishing, shooting, archery & machine shop work (which he did as much for friends as for himself).
Harry is survived by his wife of 37 years, Becky, his 3 daughters who all followed he & Becky up to the Owens Valley – Cynthia Hurdle, Lisa Trunnell & Catherine Hurdle; 4 grandchildren, Rochelle Evans of Montana, Michael Sampietro of Bishop, Joshua Sampietro of Chico & Kiera Sampietro of Crescent City, 4 great-grandchildren, Orion Nash, Wyatt Sampietro, & Juliette & Jace Evans, nephew Brent Hollister of North Hills & niece Nancy Hollister of Capistrano Beach, & his 2 beloved ‘Labramations Lexi & Alissa. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother-in-law Myron Hollister & his sister Lois Hollister.
The family wants to thank Dr Manish Pandya, Dr Anne Gasior & Dan David for all their caring & support during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to either the Big Pine Fire Department or ICARE. Services will be held Saturday, January 28 at 11:00 AM Brune Mortuary Chapel.