Hyde School’s foundation lost a cornerstone on Wednesday when Paul Hurd, 64, died of a traffic accident a stone’s throw away from the High Street campus.

Funeral arrangements are still being worked out, but the school is planning a public event for next week.

Hurd was one of the first students at Hyde, which opened in 1966 under founder Joe Gauld.

Shocked Hyde School associates said Thursday that Hurd more than capably filled just about every capacity at the private school: teacher, coach, headmaster, friend, mentor.

“Paul’s loss will undoubtedly leave a large hole in each of our hearts,” wrote Rich Truluck, associate Head of School. “Knowing Paul, however, he is the kind of man who would want his life to be celebrated. On behalf of so many grateful students, parents and colleagues, Paul will be sorely missed, and his legacy will not be forgotten.”

Hurd, a Morse High School and Bowdoin College graduate, was always seen around the campus with a smile and steadying leadership. He had returned to teaching this year after a short absence

“Paul was a great, great guy,” said former Headmaster Malcolm Gauld, now the school’s president. “This is tough on the school, especially his government class … they took it really hard.”

“Paul was the school’s first student,” added Gauld. “He scored the school’s first touchdown. I was 12 years old and I remember it was up at Erskine Academy when they had football back then.”

“I also remember when he became headmaster, we had a little reception for him. I remember saying, ‘I see we have a lot of Bowdoin College people here. We also have a lot of Hyde graduates and Morse High School people. But only one person went to all three schools and that was Paul Hurd.’

“I know this … if we ever have a Hyde School Hall of Fame, well, he would get in as a first-time ballot. He was that type of person. He probably taught more kids than anyone else at Hyde. This will be a tough one for everyone.”

“He believed in me as much as anyone I have ever known and he pushed me to believe in myself with all of his might,” said Melinda Baxter, a former Hyde teacher. “He practically willed me to believe in myself. I made one of the single most important decisions in my life thanks to Paul’s wisdom when I chose to do a postgraduate year at Hyde. That year was transformational in terms of my self worth and deep belief in myself and my potential. As an adult he has been a beloved friend along with the rest of his family.

“The hole he leaves in my heart and so many others is gigantic and his legacy is just as big. Hurd changed my life for the better in ways I can barely put in words.

“If we’re lucky we will encounter a few people who change our lives for the better in the deepest and most profound of ways,” Baxter said. “Suffice it to say I am a much better person for knowing him and for him believing deeply in me. Paul Hurd was an icon. He was a man of deep integrity, courage and love. Missing him doesn’t begin to explain how I feel about his loss.”

Surviving Hurd are his wife, Laurie; and three children, Meredith, Georgia and Zach.

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