Dr. Thelma C. Hurd of Elizabeth, N.J., died peacefully with her family at her side on Monday, August 19. She was a longtime educator and advocate for underserved communities.

Born in Renville, Ohio, she graduated from Trimble High School, where she excelled as a student. She received a degree from Ohio State University and was a licensed massage therapist. She joined her mother’s business, Thelma’s Health and Reducing Studio in Columbus, Ohio, ultimately rising to the position of CEO. In 1956 she married attorney Calvin J. Hurd, established a home in Elizabeth and raised one daughter.

Thelma received both her B.A. in elementary education (1963) and M.A. in administration and supervision (1964) from Newark State Teachers College, an M.A. in guidance from Seton Hall University (1967) and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Walden University.

Dr. Hurd’s visionary career began as a teacher in the New Brunswick, N.J., school system. She subsequently joined the Elizabeth School system in 1962 and served as a teacher at Robert Morris School (#18), guidance counselor at Battin High School and vice principal of Cleveland Junior High School. She spent the final 40 years of her career as the principal of John Marshall School #20.

Dr. Hurd was instrumental in creating a dynamic and stable learning environment for thousands of children from the surrounding neighborhood. During her tenure of innovative leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence, School #20 was transformed to a top performing elementary school whose graduates include lawyers, teachers, physicians, professional athletes, business people and scientists.

Dr. Hurd was passionate about giving back to the community. She served on the Human Rights Commission for Elizabeth as member and chair for over three decades, as well as on the board of directors of the Poconos Ranchlands, Elizabeth Port Presbyterian Scholarship Board, New Jersey Education Association (lifetime member) and the NAACP. She also served as president of the Cottagers on Martha’s Vineyard, in addition to numerous community and faith-based endeavors. Her many contributions have been recognized at the local, regional and national levels.

Dr. Hurd is survived by her daughter, Dr. Thelma Hurd-Urtecho, son in law Dr. Robert Urtecho and step-grandsons Guillaume and Jean-Baptiste; sister-in-law Debra Conley; nephews Mark and Stacy Conley; cousins Wesley and Jeffery Fultz, Larry White, life-long extended family friends Martha and Lori Sexton, Deborah Dallam, Audrey Murphy, Barbara Mohr and a host of close friends and neighbors. She was predeceased by her husband, Calvin, and brother Thomas Conley.

Funeral arrangements were by the Corsentino Home for Funerals, 620 Second avenue, Elizabeth, N.J., on August 23 and 24.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Siloam-Hope Presbyterian Church Scholarship Fund for the Thelma C. Hurd, PhD Memorial Scholarship: 496 Spring street, Elizabeth, NJ 07201.