He was known as the man who would sell you a great desk or give you a great bumper sticker.
Richard Lawrence "Dick" Hurst, 76, owner of Hurst Office Suppliers in Lexington, died Sunday.
As a purveyor of office furnishings, Hurst's has been a downtown fixture for more than eight decades and is one of the oldest family-owned local businesses. It was founded in 1923 by Mr. Hurst's father, Ollie, and Robert Byars as Hurst & Byars Printing. After World War II, Ollie Hurst took advantage of the surplus in government furniture and went into the office-supply business.
Mr. Hurst took over the business after his father retired in 1969.
Every year since 1970, from his Short Street stores and warehouses, Mr. Hurst would mail out or hand deliver thousands of bumper stickers celebrating the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
In recent years, he would print as many as 10,000, and he'd make extras for championships, said daughter Hope Hurst Lanham.
For many people, football or basketball season didn't officially start until the new bumper sticker came out.
"He was sort of an icon in the merchandising business, with his office-furniture stores and his passion of promoting UK sports," Lexington businessman Bruce Pieratt said.
Mr. Hurst also was a deacon at Central Christian Church and a supporter of many local charities, including Habitat for Humanity.
"Dick absolutely loved Lexington, loved Kentucky and especially loved the Kentucky Wildcats. And I don't know if I'd necessarily put them in that order," said Bob Quick, president and chief executive of Commerce Lexington.
Quick said Mr. Hurst sometimes would drop by the downtown chamber offices with a piece of local memorabilia.
"He strongly believed that downtown was where he was supposed to be and where he could connect best with his customers," Quick said.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement: "I'll always smile when I think of Dick Hurst. He was a good-hearted citizen, involved and active in city life. And he was a great salesman, too. As a small-business owner, he represented the backbone of Lexington and the spirit of America."
Even when the business was hurt for a few years by the closing in 1998 of Short Street for construction of new courthouses, Mr. Hurst remained committed to downtown.
"With Short Street closed, we can't tell customers to come down Broadway and take Short and come straight through to reach us," Mr. Hurst said in a 2003 interview.
When Short reopened the next year, Hurst Office Suppliers was still going strong.
Mr. Hurst is survived by wife Palina Warner Hurst, daughter Hope Lanham, son-in-law Joseph Lanham, and 8-year-old grandson Andrew Hurst Lanham. Visitation will be Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Milward-Southland. The funeral will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at Central Christian Church. Burial will be at Lexington Cemetery.