CHARLESTON, IL – Harry James Hurst, age 85, passed away peacefully at his rural Charleston home on Monday, April 5, 2021. There are no services planned at this time.
Harry was born November 24, 1935 in Charleston, Illinois and was the son of Robert J. and Maxine A. (James) Hurst. Harry was a graduate of Charleston High School and was a member of the Loxa Presbyterian Church. He married Sonja Weger on February 26, 1955 in Tulsa, Oklahoma and they have celebrated 66 years of marriage, being devoted to one another and to a loving family. In addition to his wife, Sonja, Harry is survived by his daughters, Tami McElwee and her significant other, Donnie Davis of Charleston and Connie Mahoney and husband Jack of Hermosa Beach, California; five grandchildren, Dr. Anjali Mahoney and husband Mustapha Sarboute of Manhattan Beach, California, Courtney Garza and husband Martin of Ashmore, Illinois, Cole McElwee and wife Megan of Charleston, Logan Hurst of San Francisco, California and Mason Hurst of Robinson, Illinois; five great-grandchildren; a brother, Harold Hurst and wife Debbie of Buncombe, Illinois; a sister, Joyce Williams and husband John of Charleston; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a son Mike Hurst.
When you hear the name Harry Hurst, two words come to mind – automobiles and racing! He owned D & D Auto Sales located west of Charleston on Route 16 for many years until his retirement in 2000. He enjoyed all types of racing, including drag racing, kart racing, and NASCAR, which he enjoyed as a spectator. Harry was a past president and local legend at the Coles County Speedway in the 60’s and 70’s and is still remembered to this day for his many wins. He was highly knowledgeable regarding engines and helped rebuild several of them over the years. To this day, people still reach out to him for advice or suggestions on various automobile related topics. He truly was a walking, talking encyclopedia on all thing’s “cars”.
When his racing days were over, he enjoyed the benefits of a simple life which consisted of watching old Westerns, reading automobile magazines, visiting with friends, and spending time with family. Harry had a smile that could light up a room which gave way to the nickname “Handsome Harry” as he was affectionately referred to. Many would say that he had the “gift of gab” never meeting a stranger and having the unique ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. He could always be counted on to tell a joke or share a story.
Harry was blessed with a wealth of friends with whom he diligently kept in contact with over the years and will be greatly missed by all of them. Above all, the love he felt for his family was paramount and they now cherish their many wonderful memories of the amazing person that he was: a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and uncle.
The loss of Harry will be felt for years to come.