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Marjorie Hurd, 1886-1977


It was on a train to the White Mountains for a rock-climbing week end at Pinkham Notch some fifty years ago that I first got to know and appreciate Marjorie Hurd’s interest in climbing, white-water canoeing and other outdoor activities.

She was born June 24, 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Alfred D. and Louisa Maria (Coolidge) Hurd. She died in Cambridge April 1, 1977. She graduated from Radcliffe with an A.B. in 1908 and an A.M. in 1911, and received a law degree from Portia Law School in Boston. After some eight years in several large law offices in Boston, she joined the Boston Legal Aid Society and devoted the remainder of her active business career in serving the legal needs of the underprivileged. It was at about this same time that she began an active climbing career for which she will be remembered by our members.

The ascent of Mount Rainer in 1924 whetted her appetite for more. The next few years were spent in climbing in the Western Alps, between Chamonix and Zermatt, the Dolomites, largely in the Cortina d’Ampezzo region, the Sierra Nevada, Colorado Rockies, Wind River and Teton Ranges, the Canadian Rockies, Selkirks, and Purcells. She also climbed in Mexico and was extremely active in New England rock- and ice-climbing, both in the White Mountains and Katahdin.

Although never a planner of new routes or leader of outstanding climbs, her warmth and interest, her knowledge of procedures and good judgment made her a welcome member of any climbing group and her ability as a climber assured her companions of an interesting day in the hills.

She was also active in many other fields. Her skill in reading water and handling the paddle led her safely down many a wild stream. In fact with the present writer she won a gold medal in the 1940 National Championship races on the Rapid River in Maine. She was, as well, an active mycologist and as a conservationist was for a number of years Chairman of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Conservation Committee. In addition, she participated in political efforts to improve the quality of local government.

Her participation in the affairs of the Appalachian Mountain Club is another manifestation of her love of the mountains. She served as Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, as member of the Honorary and Corresponding Membership Committee and White-Water Canoeing Committee, and was a Vice President in 1947. She twice acted as Editor of Appalachia, 1941-1946 and 1962-1965 for a total of ten years.

Our Club has lost a most loyal and active supporter, who will be remembered by all who knew her for her unfailing interest in the mountains and her energy in pursuing it.

Kenneth A. Henderson