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Service pays tribute to Priscilla Payne Hurd's life, legacy

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 06 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 07 2013 06:22:17 PM CST

Nearly 200 people gathered Thursday in Bethlehem to remember a generous Lehigh Valley philanthropist.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Nearly 200 people gathered Thursday at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to remeber a generous Lehigh Valley philanthropist.  Priscilla Payne Hurd passed away February 5 at the age of 93.

The celebration of life lasted about an hour. There was a sadness in the air, but those who knew Hurd said she was a leader and benefactor.  The service even had some laughter, because those closest said humor was part of her DNA.

To friends she was known as Prill. Her charitable gifts number in the billions, not dollars but the amount of lives she touched in the community.

"I just want to honor her memory and the legacy of caring that she provided not just to St. Luke's but to so many organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley," shared Pat Bower from St. Luke's University Hospital. 

Hurd's name graces several education, medical and arts buildings in the area.  She was the first woman to chair the board of trustees at Moravian College and St. Luke's Hospital.

"The hospital is what it is today in part from the things that she did not only with her philanthropy but with her leadership," said Gail Evans from St. Luke's University Hospital. 

"We received general operating support through family foundations that she supported," added Debra Lamb with Lehigh Valley Children's Centers.  "It allowed us to provide early childhood education for thousands of children over several years."

Friends said she gave from the heart, and lived a productive, rewarding and fulfilling life.

"She supported many things publicly," explained Evans.  "Then there were the small projects that probably people never even heard of."

Prill was a visionary, and her life will leave a lasting impact.

"She's strengthened the future of the Lehigh Valley through the work that she did," smiled Lamb.