After a long battle with cancer, Howard Wayne Hurst, 89, of Paradise, CA, passed away in his sleep surrounded by family on August 31, 2019, in his residence in Rocklin, CA.
The fourth of six children born to Philip Hurst and Mabel Wright, Howard came into the world on February 12, 1930 in Moab with what his mother described as a “mighty wail.” The rest of his days unfolded with as much confidence and zealous joy.
Howard grew up in the remote, tight-knit, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community of Blanding. Howard’s ancestors helped settle the San Juan region, near Monument Valley, at the turn of the 20th century. Many settlers came to the area to create an outpost at the direction of Latter-day Saint Prophet John Taylor.
His ancestry’s faithful sacrifices and optimistic resolve to endure under difficult circumstances informed and inspired the rest of his life.
Howard passed on his love for and lessons learned from his ancestors to both his posterity and friends through storytelling. He never lost his passion for his roots.
From 10 years old until he went to college, Howard earned his own wages and learned the virtues of hard work by laboring alongside family members at the family’s farm and sawmill.
His time working with his father and grandfather, George Arthur Hurst, was the source for many life lessons, bonding, storytelling, and singing silly songs.
It was here Howard began fostering a love of storytelling and the arts, in the same pattern of his grandfather and great-grandfather, Philip Hurst, who were both known in their communities for being thespians.
In high school, Howard played the trombone, tuba, sousaphone, and drums in various bands. In college, he formed a quartet with some friends, and the group routinely performed at various church functions.
Howard completed a conducting course at age 17 and went on to lead music for church choirs or meetings in various capacities and times throughout his life.
At 17, he also joined an aviation club where he learned to fly airplanes. He sold his interest in the airplane he co-owned to help finance his education at Brigham Young University.
Howard began his studies at BYU in September 1948, and he was a member of the student newspaper staff, Intercollegiate Knights, and the Associated Men Student Council.
Howard took a break from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Northern States Mission, headquartered in Chicago, IL, from October 11, 1950, to October 17, 1952.
There he taught others about the gospel of Jesus Christ and served in various administrative roles.
After returning from his mission, Howard worked as a river guide taking tourists on boats down the San Juan and Colorado rivers.
In June 1953, Howard left BYU to work with New York Life Insurance Company out of Blanding. He continued his work as a financial planner until late in his life, and he was still managing some clients until shortly before his death.
On Christmas Eve 1953 Howard proposed to Corine Helquist with a diamond engagement ring. The couple were married on April 7, 1954 in the Latter-day Saint temple in Manti, UT. Corine was also a Blanding local.
The two were inspired by their collective heritage and raised their five children to value industry, creativity, service, and practicality.
Much of Howard’s life was dedicated toward serving in the church. Shortly after getting married, Howard was ordained by Harold B. Lee, Church apostle and future prophet, into a regional leadership position called a “Seventy.” During the 1970s, Howard was ordained a bishop and ministered a congregation in Paradise, CA for several years.
On November 4, 1979, Howard was ordained by Apostle Boyd K. Packer to be a patriarch, a man called by Church leaders to give blessings to Church members that contain personal counsel from God, in the Chico, CA stake of the Church.
With Corine as his companion, Howard again served as a missionary to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, October 2007 to March 2009, where the two gave tours and answered tourists’ questions.
Howard’s other talents included writing poetry, crafting homemade root beer, and making chocolates and pancakes from scratch.
With his wife, Howard also enjoyed gardening and helping to design and build three of their family homes. They were devastated to lose all three of the homes they built in Paradise, CA, including the home they were living in, during the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018.
The couple had felt divinely inspired to prepare for an emergency a year prior to the fire. Thanks to their preparation, Howard and Corine were able to get out safely and save all of their family heirlooms.
Howard endured the trauma of surviving the fire with grace, humor, and faith. His immediate reaction upon evacuating was to ensure his loved ones this trial was going to turn into a blessing.
Howard is preceded in death by his father, Philip Hurst; his mother, Mabel Wright; and siblings Scott Arthur Hurst, Leonard Wright Hurst, Margie Hurst Holt, and Philip Terry and Lois, who both died in childhood.
Howard is survived by his wife, Corine; their five children, Tad Hurst, Hal Hurst, Connie Moore, Kaye Marques, and Nathan Hurst; their children’s spouses; 18 grandchildren and their spouses; 18 great-grandchildren, including a namesake, Howie; and his sister, Mabel June Palmer.
A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, September 11 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 205 East 200 North in Blanding.
Flowers may be sent to San Juan Mortuary, 370 South Main St., Blanding, UT, 84511.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m., September 28 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2430 Mariposa Ave. in Chico, CA. Interment will be at Blanding City Cemetery.
The memorial on September 28 is being broadcast online for anyone who may be interested in watching. The link is webcast.churchofjesuschrist.org. The event code is 14436.