Longtime Billings activist Joan Hurdle, 81, a former state legislator, died Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, of abdominal cancer.
She was born in Glendive on Aug. 21, 1931. She had lived on the West Coast at various times but had lived in Billings for the past 27 years.
An educator, politician and environmentalist, Ms. Hurdle was known for speaking her mind on issues affecting the Billings community, the state of Montana, the nation and the world. She served on numerous local and regional boards and was a frequent contributor of letters to both the Gazette and Outpost over the years.
Elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1994, she served four consecutive terms representing District 13, which largely consisted of the Billings South Side and neighborhoods near downtown. In the Legislature, she fought for citizens who lacked access to lobbyists and large corporate conglomerates to represent their interests. She was a champion of women’s rights as exemplified in her work as a leader in the League of Women Voters and involvement in the National Organization for Women.
She once wrote, “The whole purpose of life is to learn how to make the world a better place, to have justice and democracy, to have everyone fed and housed, to have every child a wanted, educated and loved child, to have things, especially our planet, be truly beautiful.”
She was the granddaughter of Reginald Truman (R.T.) Hurdle, who served as the Billings city engineer in the 1930s. He completed the original land surveys in Billings, which were used in planning the layout of the city.
Survivors include sons, Duff Schoonmaker, Jon Schoonmaker and Neil Schoonmaker; and seven grandchildren.
Private family services have been held. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Donations may be made in her name of Joan Hurdle to any organization dedicated to the cause of caring for children anywhere in the world.