Price Hurt, one of the initial two hundred founders of the Marco Island Yacht Club, recently celebrated his 95th birthday on May 21st.
Born in 1924, Hurt’s life has been colorful and varied. He served as an electrician for one of the LCT’s landing on the beaches during the D-Day Invasion, and then went on to have a successful 40-year career managing quarries. To discuss his life and accomplishments, he sat down for an interview out of his comfy suite at Terracina Grand.
Hurt grew up in Maryland in the 1930s with a foster mother and father. During high school he played soccer for a time as well as getting junior varsity in basketball. “Growing up I had to work as much as possible,” Hurt said, “and I missed out on a lot of things I would have liked to have done – but I don’t look at that as a negative, it was a learning experience.”
Instead of college he decided to join up with the Navy at eighteen in June of 1942 – deploying into service in March the following year. “I knew that if I didn’t join they were going to draft me anyhow,” Hurt recounts, “I thought if I joined the navy at least I’d have clean sheets every night.”
“My main reason for joining was that I liked the water, and I still do. That was the main reason I came to Florida – got myself a little boat,” he explained, “I really thought it’d be a better life.”
Attending boot camp at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center Hurt was assigned to work the telegraph – something which he didn’t find much satisfaction in. Passing his other courses with high marks, Hurt was allowed a short leave from his commanding officer, and upon is return to the camp knew what he wanted to do. “I wanted to be an electrician,” he explained, leaving the naval service as electrician second mate.
Initially wanting to serve on destroyers with one of his friends on the USS Benson, Hurt transferred over to the amphibious forces to be with his cousins. “My commander thought I was crazy!”
During the Invasion of Normandy, Hurt worked on an LCT which was tasked with bringing men and equipment to the beach. “Our duty those first few days was to get people on the beach,” he recalls, having to wrestle with the fourteen-foot drop in tide on the flat beach when it came to trying to get people and supplies to where they needed to be.
Hurt never lost a man on vessel, being only a ten-man crew aboard, with his duty aside from being the ship’s electrician was to run the throttles of the boat. “We were flat-bottom, and those things were like sail boats,” Hurt said, “They would slip through the water, and if you worked with your helmsman it was amazing how you could turn short spots with those things.”
“The toughest part was what you had to bring back from the beach.”
On one of his thirty-day leaves Hurt returned home to marry to his wife Ruth, she being nineteen and he being twenty-one at the time. It was after he left the service around Christmas of 1946 that he began looking for work as an electrician and ended getting work from his father-in-law building prefab houses, and what was meant to be a temporary job ended up turning into a fourteen-year career.
“Some nights I’d go home to my father-in-law and get down with him and say, ‘tomorrow I got to put some trusses on these rooves – I don’t know how to do that.’ We’d sit there that night and he’d teach me how to do these things, then I’d show up the next day and they thought I knew what I was talking about! That’s how I started getting ahead.”
Hurt’s longest career was in the quarry business, in which he worked for forty years, running four to five operations at a time for several large companies until his retirement in 1989.
Hurt and his family were drawn to Marco for the weather. What first started as short trips to meet with friends in Naples culminated with his wife waking up one morning and telling him, “Take me to Marco.”
So in 1991 the couple moved to the island and lived in the recently-finished buildings in Sussex on the Bay before settling into a house at Key Marco. It was during this time that Hurt got involved in the Marco Island Yacht Club, then owned by the developer Jack Antaramian. In 2001 he decided to sell off the club, and while Hurt was out of the state he received the call. “It was one of my friends saying, ‘Either send money or come.’” Unhappy with the potential buyers for the club, a group of two hundred members came together to purchase it for themselves. Putting down a payment, Hurt became one of the founding members of the club.
“It was worth the investment,” he said, “I had a lot of good times there, and we entertained a lot of good people.”
A member of the Wesley United Methodist Church, the Freemasons, and a number of committees, Hurt was a very active resident of the island until the death of his wife and youngest daughter around 2006. He now resides in Terracina Grand in Naples.
Hurt has maintained a positive outlook throughout his life. “No matter what hit me I tried to stay positive. I found that you get through it easier,” he said, imparting that keeping one’s chin up is the key to success.
“People asked me what I’d change if I could live it over,” Hurt recalled, “and I said ‘nothing’. I am very satisfied with the life I had. Not that I did everything right, I didn’t, but with the life I had – a good wife, a good family – you can’t ask for much more.”