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Philanthropist Priscilla Payne Hurd dies at 93

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 05 2013 09:45:05 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 04:43:45 AM CST

Priscilla Payne Hurd dies

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The Lehigh Valley has lost another philanthropist.

Priscilla Payne Hurd's name is on a lot of buildings around the Lehigh Valley, but her friends say she was more than that.

Hurd, a well know philanthropist, died Tuesday morning at the age of 93.

Now people are talking about the woman they called a leader, benefactor and friend.

In a statement from Moravian College about Priscilla Hurd, officials said, "Over the years, she challenged us, admonished us from time to time, nurtured us and inspired us as a group."

Friends say that inspiration will pass to many generations in the Lehigh Valley.

As students walk past the portrait of Priscilla Payne Hurd, friends of hers feel the pain of losing her but say just look around and see the lives she has touched.

"The Payne Gallery, as I mentioned, is one.  The student research is another.  Leadership initiative is another one that she backed and that's an ongoing program," said Kay Somers, a professor at Moravian College.

Rudy Ackerman was in charge of the art department at Moravian College in the 90's when he first met Priscilla Payne Hurd.

Ackerman still remembers the speech "Prill", as he calls her, gave that night about her vision for the gallery.

"She said 'I'm turning it over to Dr. Ackerman to make this into something, to carry this on'," said Ackerman. "So it's wonderful how she giving up, she was saying this is yours, do it, make it, make it work."

It's that attitude and heart that led Priscilla Hurd to help a lot of people.

People say Tuesday morning they lost a "great friend," but she has left a shining example for many.

"I think people knew that she was in failing health," said Somers. "And of course that's a tough time for family and it was tough for Moravian because she is part of the Moravian family."

"Her generation and others who have passed now, made their point, they made it," said Ackerman. "Now others have to rise up, and they will."

Priscilla Hurd also dedicated her time when she could.  She served as the first woman chair on the board of trustees at Moravian College and St. Luke's Hospital.

On Monday, fellow philanthropist Marlene 'Linny' Fowler died at 73.