O. Ray Hurst, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Hospital Association from 1956 to 1986, died April 29 at the age of 82.
Hurst had emergency surgery March 12 after suffering an aortic dissection and never recovered, said Amanda Engler, a spokeswoman for the association. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Hurst was an innovator in the world of state hospital associations, according to Richard Bettis, who stepped down as the THAs president and CEO Jan. 1. Dan Stultz is the current president and CEO.
During his tenure, Hurst initiated a recruitment program that increased the number of Texas youth entering health-related careers, as well as a shared insurance program that refunded more than $8 million to member hospitals, according to the THA.
He was one of the best mentors I could imagine, Bettis said. Hurst allowed me to do just about everything the association does. I felt like he was a tough task driver, but one of these guys who put a lot of confidence in his staff.
Rooms became quiet when Hurst spoke because he had a voice that sounded like a locomotive, Bettis said.
An East Texas native, Hurst loved to repeat colloquialisms and recently self-published a book of his favorite sayings, or Hurstisms.
Hurst is survived by his wife, Eleanor; his daughter and son-in-law, Raelynn and Joseph Maxwell; and his son and daughter-in-law, Miles and Tippi Hurst. He will be buried today at Austin (Texas) Memorial Park. -- by Jessica Zigmond