A humble man of many talents, Charles E. Hurst found eternal rest on March 23, 2023, in the company of his devoted wife of 56 years, Mary Ellen, and his children Katie, Brendan, and Sarah. Chuck’s lifetime of intellectual curiosity and service to others began in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Working an array of different jobs to support his pursuit of higher education, Chuck earned both his BS and MS in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His early teaching forays took him to the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley and Green Bay Centers where serendipity intervened and he met Mary Ellen. Upon moving to La Crosse in 1965 for another teaching position, Chuck resolved that he and Mary Ellen should never part. They were wed in Appleton in June 1966. Thereafter, the young couple relocated to Storrs, Connecticut, so that Chuck could continue his Ph.D. studies in Sociology (completed in 1972). Upon returning to La Crosse, the couple welcomed their first child, Katie. A period of much change, Chuck and Mary Ellen made lifelong friends, grew as a couple, and were joined by their second child, Brendan. Two years later, daughter Sarah completed this tight-knit family of five.
Chuck’s notable academic career continued at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where in 1970 he began as Assistant Professor of Sociology. Ensuing success in the classroom and as an author led to his promotion in 1975 to Associate Professor, and finally to full Professor in 1980, in which role he served until his retirement in 2008. During his College of Wooster tenure, he also served several terms as chairman of the sociology department. This fruitful portion of Chuck’s career saw the publishing of eight editions of his seminal textbook, Social Inequality: Forms, Causes and Consequences, the transcripts of which Mary Ellen occasionally helped edit between late-night chocolate runs. A second book, Living Theory: The Application of Classical Social Theory To Contemporary Life, followed in 2005. An Amish Paradox, co-authored in 2006 with Dr. David McConnell, marked a sizable contribution to the study of Amish communities and their intersection with modern society. Numerous scholarly articles, paper presentations, speeches, and guest lectures punctuated Chuck’s contribution to higher learning. Perhaps most telling, Chuck was consistently and universally celebrated by students and fellow academics alike for a passionate and creative approach to sociology that made complex concepts accessible to all. Upon retirement, Chuck continued to enjoy conversation and camaraderie with “the Coffee Boys” at the College, as well as many longtime colleagues and friends.
Despite the demands of a full career and growing family, throughout his life Chuck sought opportunities to serve. From 2002 to 2020 Chuck was an active participant on the Board of Trustees for the College Hills Retirement Village in Wooster, Ohio. He also volunteered at Wooster Community Hospital, the Ohio Agriculture and Research Development Center (OARDC), The Wooster Hope Center, and People To People Ministries. Frequent charitable contributions to many causes further demonstrated Chuck and Mary Ellen’s commitment to the betterment of their community.
Never one to turn away an opportunity to take his children fishing, to the park, a shopping mall, or on a trip back to Wisconsin, Chuck’s actions made it clear that his family stood above all else. Few would work harder than Chuck at his occupation, and still return home to cook dinner, mow the yard, and walk the dog with his kids. Most of all, Chuck’s devotion to Mary Ellen evinced a love and fidelity seldom seen in couples of any era. In unity they persevered through setbacks and times of loss, celebration and moments of uncertainty, living a rich and full life through almost 60 years. Additionally, Chuck cherished traveling with family, gardening, watching Westerns, and time fishing, camping, and relaxing outdoors.
Chuck is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen Hurst (Flanagan), daughters Katie (Brent) Gledhill and Sarah (Chris) Hopp, and son Brendan (Alicia Angelo). To the end, he treasured the company of grandchildren Maddy and Rowan Gledhill and Carson and Charlotte Hopp. Also surviving are brothers Ronald (Jean) Hurst, Richard (Sue) Hurst, and Bob (Malou) Hurst, and sister Rose Hurst. He was preceded in death by parents Charles E. and Victoria E. Hurst (Wojciechowski) and sister Diane (Marvin) Wensel. Chuck viewed his in-laws as true family and is survived by brothers-in-law Tom (Barb) Flanagan, Mike Flanagan, Patrick (Brad Cantrell) Flanagan, Conner Van Doren, and sister-in-law Kathleen (Keenan Behrle) Flanagan. He was preceded in death by father and mother-in-law Thomas J. and Beulah E. Flanagan (Green), as well as sister-in-law Maureen Van Doren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 10:00 AM at St. Mary Catholic Church, 527 Beall Ave., Wooster, OH. Private family burial will take place at St. Mary Cemetery in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Friends will be received on Friday, March 31, 2023 from 4:00 PM-6:00 PM at McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster, OH.
The family gratefully acknowledges the expert and thoughtful care provided by Dr. Eric Smith, the clinical oncology, neurosurgery, and radiation teams at the Cleveland Clinic, and Ohio Lifecare Hospice. In remembrance of Chuck’s life and in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the following:
- The College of Wooster, Attn: The Charles E. Hurst Prize in Sociology and Anthropology, 1189 Beall Ave, Wooster, OH 44691
- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation, Attn: The Charles E. Hurst Scholarship Fund, 1440 E North St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
- Ohio Lifecare Hospice, 1900 Akron Rd, Wooster, OH 44691
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mcintirebradhamsleek.com