Remembering Bill Hurt

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

No, you don’t know Bill, but Fran and I loved him as our Minister of Education at Hampton Baptist Church in Virginia, where we were members for some 20 years. 

Bill ran the Sunday School quietly; his office door was always open and I felt welcome to visit with Bill there. Bill played his guitar and sang with us at many of our gatherings.

We also loved Bill’s wife, Jane, who sang in the church sanctuary choir with us. I felt close to Jane because she was a graduate of nearby Furman University. I also like Amy especially because we both played Brahms Rhapsody in G minor. I hope she still does; my piano-playing days are definitely over!

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Fran usually talks with friend Judy North while I visit friends in the Medical Wing; today Judy was at the Celebration of Life service for Bill Hurt. She called Fran this evening and they had their usual long phone visit.

I am trying to get used to the idea that I will not see too many of my friends ever again! My son does not want me to drive even as far as Hendersonville! Fran schedules the medical driver here at White Oak to take me to my doctors in Hendersonville and Brevard; I have changed the rest of them to the doctors associated with St. Luke’s Hospital.

In driving around Polk County, it appears that we now live in a jungle. Two non-native species have taken over: Kudzu and Tree of Heaven! I know how kudzu got here, but I don’t know how we got Tree of Heaven!

My grandfather was encouraged by the county agent of his time to plant kudzu to control rampant erosion on Rippy Hill. The large leaves on the vine shaded the porch swing in summer and died down in winter to let the vines at the base of the trees they were climbing on. We could then pull the vine down out of the tree so it could live.

When John Vining was the County Agent, he tried to get a committee going to attempt to eradicate kudzu. When only a small handful of people showed interest, he abandoned that idea.

The so-called Tree of Heaven grows from a similar network of roots like kudzu. The root system has nodules about every foot, from which branches develop. The nodules send up a leaf in the case of kudzu, or a tree trunk in the case of Tree of Heaven. That is how they propagate underground. The only way to control it is to kill the roots. Apparently, there is now a spray that will do the job! I assume that the spray kills the roots. Hope so! 

I understand that there is now a group working actively to eliminate kudzu. I wish them well. I hope their numbers will grow exponentially, for that is what is needed to get the job done. Every landowner needs to decide to eliminate both kudzu and Tree of Heaven from his property. Perhaps the County extension office will take a renewed interest in the elimination of this menace once and for all.

If there is a spray that will kill both varieties, perhaps the extension office could buy it in large quantities and make it available at cost to landowners whose property is infested. Total removal of these pests will take a massive concerted effort. I hope there will be a groundswell of public interest in doing this!                         

Garland would like to hear from you at 828-859-7041 or