Leaving West Jeff with mixed emotions
By Kevin Dye
It was William Shakespeare who wrote that “parting is such sweet sorrow.” That famous quote from Romeo and Juliet sums up perfectly the feelings of one West Jefferson couple who sadly had to say goodbye this week to the village they grew to love.
It was a difficult decision for Dr. Richard Hurt and his wife, Sally, to board a plane early Thursday morning to travel away from their home of more than 45 years on Olmstead Road to their new home in Florida.
“It’s bittersweet really,” Dr. Hurt said. “It’s kind of a mixed bag. I don’t want to go a 100 percent, but I’m going to have to for my medical treatment. I have lived in West Jefferson my whole life and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I practiced medicine for 52 years and 45 of those years in West Jefferson. We love the town and are sad to leave.”
Dr. Hurt graduated from Ohio State University in 1957 with his medical degree, following in his father’s footsteps, and he said that he and his father most likely delivered around 1,800 babies in Madison County. In a 2008 interview he recalled his very first baby delivery at Madison County Hospital.
“I was delivering at Madison County Hospital and I was driving pretty fast. So, the next thing I know the Highway Patrol pulled me over and thought I was too young to be a doctor. He followed me to the hospital, in the hospital and into the delivery room just to make sure I was indeed a doctor.”
He still misses working in the medical field and the relationships that he had with all of his patients.
“I retired from medicine in 2006,” Dr. Hurt said. “I definitely miss practicing medicine both at the hospital and here in my office in West Jefferson.”
Another area where Dr. Hurt served the local community was in the field of sports medicine. He served as the team physician for West Jefferson High School athletics and received an award from the Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio High School Athletic Association for 20 years of outstanding service in sports medicine.
“I will really miss the football games,” Dr. Hurt said. “I spent 21 years as the team physician and went to almost every game. I’ll also miss the camaraderie of the people in this town. I’ll miss the small town atmosphere of West Jefferson.”
Hurt said he has found memories of the village going back to when he was a child.
“I lived up on Main Street and at that time they had the Interurban on tracks running through town and I traveled with my mom to downtown Lazarus in Columbus on the Interurban,” Hurt said.
While the Hurts will miss leaving West Jefferson, it is also painful to close another chapter of their lives in the village dealing with a special breed of horse. Their home was named RicShar Farm for their children Richard and Sherri and they became well known for raising and showing teams of Shire draft horses at several state fairs in Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Kentucky.
Draft horses made an impression on Dr. Hurt after he saw a six horse hitch at the Ohio State Fair and he was hooked.
“I always liked how they looked and moved,” Hurt said. “They’re very gentle and easy to work with. I finally decided to raise shire draft horses in the 1960s.”
The Hurt family won more awards for their Shire teams than they can recall and they had the help of a crew of Mike Maggard and Scott Welding, who helped with transportation, handling of equipment and the showing of the horses.
“It hurts very much not to be able to have horses anymore,” Dr. Hurt said. “We had three left and we sold two and gave the third one away to Mike Maggard. We showed every year at the Ohio State Fair since 1971, including this year. We definitely will miss it.”
Dr. Hurt was honored by the Village of West Jefferson for his service to the community in 2010 when he was selected, along with Jack Pfeil, for the Ralph L. Parsons Community Service Award. The award is presented to those who have “Gone Above And Beyond The Normal Service To The Community.”
While the Hurts are saying goodbye this week, they are leaving the door open to return and visit the town and their friends as Dr. Hurt’s health allows.
“We will really miss West Jefferson,” Dr. Hurt said. “We will probably be back occasionally. Depending on my health, we will try to do that.”