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Couple celebrating doubly on Friday

Bob and Margaret Hurst will celebrate her 95th birthday and their 74th wedding anniversary on Friday.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

The mayor of a California city thinks Connersville's Bob Hurst is pretty smart: Bob married Margaret on her birthday and so he has only one date to remember.

"And probably only had to get her one gift," Lowell Hurst, Bob and Margaret's son, said, chuckling.

That date is Aug. 10. The couple is celebrating her 95th birthday and their 74th wedding anniversary on Friday. Until four years ago, they lived on the farm near Waterloo where Bob Hurst was born more than 97 years ago. Now, they reside at Heritage House, east of Connersville, and enjoy having  company.

The couple are parents of three children. John, the eldest, who was developmentally disabled, died in 2009 at age 64. Lowell, a retired teacher, lives in Watsonville, Calif., where he is a long-time member of city council and currently the mayor; and Susan lives in Oxford, Ohio, where she is business librarian for Miami University.

The Hurst family has deep roots in Fayette County. The Hurst farm is a century farm, state recognition that it's been in the same family more than 100 years. Today, the Hursts lease it to the tenant, John Stevens, who continues running dairy on it as Bob and Margaret did.

Bob -- Connersville High School Class of 1938 -- and Margaret, from Cowan, met at Purdue University, where Bob studied agriculture and she was enrolled in home ec. They went to a movie on a blind double date.

"I thought he was alright," Margaret said on Tuesday.

Asked if he liked her right away, Bob said, "Yeah, I guess."

Two and one-half years later, on Aug. 10, 1944, they married in her parents' living room. They came back to the Hurst farm and started working.

Bob's father had been raising beef cattle.

"It was Mom’s idea they get into dairy cows – her father connected them with a farmer out in Wisconsin, I think, where they bought about 10 bred heifers and that was the start of their herd," according to Susan Hurst.

Both parents knew the value of hard work, according to both Susan and Lowell. He recalls driving a tractor when he was nine years old and packing hay in the hay mow. "I learned a lot of details and how just a little slip could make a real difference," he said.

Margaret grew up on a farm south of Muncie, Lowell said. "She knew all about the joys and difficulty of farm life. She also had great skill sets of cooking. She could roll up her sleeves and put on her rubber boots and milk cows. She was a really hard worker."

Susan recalled, "Mom was always a wonderful cook – she put three square meals on the table for over 70 years for him. Did the dishes too, and everything else around the house. Plus she used to have a big garden with all sorts of vegetables, plus flowers up around the house.

"She was an early feminist though – always told me I needed to go to college and have a career. I took that advice and am very happy I did."

Lowell credits his dad for getting him interested in civic affairs. "Even after a long, hard day on the farm, he would go to meetings. He was always civic minded and that was an inspiration to me. He was a good role model."

Bob has been on the board of the REMC, the Fayette County Farm Bureau Co-op and the Soil and Water Conservation district. He's a member of Connersville Rotary Club.

Bob Hurst has sometimes been called "mayor of Waterloo," the community nearest their farm. Lowell says that's been a pretty good joke in the family, since Lowell is mayor of Watsonville, Calif. Lowell is running for re-election this year; Bob's title is lifetime.

Both parents, Lowell said, have been innovators, looking for new and better ways of doing things.

Asked Tuesday if they had a secret to their long marriage, Bob said no, not really. "We've enjoyed it. We've had our share of spats," he said. Margaret didn't have anything to add to that.

Susan writes, "Mom and Dad both have always had a good sense of humor about things though -- I am sure that has helped them a lot.

"Also, they are not quitters -- that is why they are both still alive, neither of them wants to leave the other one behind."