March 5, 2013

Feature obituary: Maria Hurley, 92, demanding English teacher at Deering

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

CUMBERLAND – To say Maria Hurley was a perfectionist when it came to teaching and education would be an understatement.

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Maria Hurley

Family photo


Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mrs. Hurley was a dedicated English teacher who spent the final two decades of her career at Deering High School, her alma mater.

Her unwavering mission, her family said, was to give her students a top-notch education.

Mrs. Hurley died Friday of complications related to congestive heart failure. She was 92.

She grew up in Portland and graduated from Deering in 1938. She continued her studies at the University of Maine in Orono, where she graduated in 1942.

She began teaching English and Spanish at Falmouth High School.

She also taught briefly at Lincoln Middle School in Portland before returning to Deering High School in the mid 1960s. She retired from teaching in 1982.

Mrs. Hurley was remembered by her children this week as a demanding teacher determined to see her students succeed.

Her daughter, Giovanna "Gio" Hurley of Cumberland, said her mother had a reputation for challenging her students and holding them accountable if they slacked off in class.

If students skipped her class, she would call their parents. If a student used Cliff notes instead of reading an assignment, she knew it. If students -- or family members -- used incorrect grammar, she corrected it with glaring red pen marks.

At the same time, students respected Mrs. Hurley. Her daughter said she brought out the best in students and dedicated extra time to help kids that were struggling. Many called her "Ma Hurley."

"Her students learned so much from her," her daughter said. "Students appreciated her passion and the fact that she brought her work to life."

Mrs. Hurley's three children attended Deering High School while she taught there. Only one ever landed in detention. A son, Carl Hurley of Fairfax, Va., chuckled Tuesday thinking about that day.

"I was late for her home room class," he said. "She could make a drill instructor at Parris Island shake. I admired her high standards. She always demanded a little more of you. I was a late bloomer. She never gave up on me."

Mrs. Hurley kept in touch with many of her students over the years.

She was married to Daniel Hurley for 38 years. He died in 1985.

The Hurleys met at Riverside Golf Course in Portland. She worked there during the summers and he was an avid golfer.

They lived on Newman street in Portland for many years.

Her daughter said they shared a good life together. She reminisced about their holiday gatherings and family dinners. Their house was always open to friends and neighbors, she said.

Most recently, Mrs. Hurley lived at Hawthorne Court in Cumberland. Her daughter said she had many friends there.

Mrs. Hurley had a history of heart disease. In her later years, she walked regularly and played golf until she was 90 years-old.

"She lived a nice long life," her daughter said.

"She went out the way she wanted to. She wanted to die at home. I'm really happy we were able to do that for her."

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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